As Hurricane Isaac pummeled cable operators like Cox and telcos along the Gulf Coast this week, Verizon was dealing with a separate, unnatural disaster in the Northeast: a flaming mattress.
The burning bedding under a bridge in Lawrence, Mass. — apparently ignited by a homeless man’s cigarette — melted 60 PVC conduits carrying Verizon fiber and copper cabling in the wee small hours of Aug. 27.
The damage knocked out service for about 7,000 customers of Verizon’s FiOS and legacy telecom services in the area. Crews worked overnight to make 12,000 fiber-optic splices in 36 hours, restoring service to all FiOS subscribers and businesses with fiber connections by Wednesday.
“The work to restore service is complex, given that technicians are splicing thousands of individual copper and fiber-optic connections in a very confined area under the bridge,” the telco said in a statement. “The conduit structure that holds the cables, which was protected by a metal cage, was destroyed and needs to be replaced.”
About 1,000 customers served by the copper network were still incommunicado, and Verizon said it expects the “vast majority” of those to be restored in the next few days.
To be sure, Mother Nature has far more destructive powers. But it’s a reminder that major outages can stem from something as small as a careless flick of the wrist.