From Hawaii to B.C., wildfires underscore resiliency challenges for telecoms

By Sammy Hudes
The Canadian Press
June 10, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, United States

As wind-driven wildfires broke out on the Hawaiian island of Maui last summer, killing more than 100 people and destroying thousands of buildings, a telecommunications blackout kept many residents in the dark. The outage exacerbated an already devastating situation in areas such as the town of Lahaina, home to around 13,000 people, where both evacuation orders and first responders’ emergency communications were hampered. In addition to the downing of all cellphones and landlines in Lahaina, the area also faced a failure of commercial electrical service for days. …A key lesson from the Maui wildfires has emerged: resilient telecom networks are crucial when disaster strikes. Companies and regulators in other jurisdictions, including Canada, are taking note amid growing wildfire activity in remote regions. …Last month, wildfire damage to fibre lines near Fort Nelson, B.C. caused days-long cellular and internet outages in the province’s north, as well as in Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

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