Mass Cellphone Outages During CA Fires Raise Question About What Will Happen After Major Quake

Firefighters mop up hot spots at two homes along Red Wine Road in Geyserville, Calif., that burned in the Kincade fire in the early morning of Oct. 25, 2019. (Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Firefighters mop up hot spots at two homes along Red Wine Road in Geyserville, Calif., that burned in the Kincade fire in the early morning of Oct. 25, 2019. (Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

When Ted Atz, a 75-year-old retiree in Marin County, learned that his power would go out during the Kincade fire, he texted his loved ones that he might lose cell service.

He was right. For four long days, Atz couldn’t make or receive calls. He’d drive around his hometown of San Anselmo, hoping to find better reception. He had no luck and was frustrated by the knowledge that if he suffered some kind of medical or other emergency, he couldn’t reach 911.

“I would have liked to let family know that I was OK,” Atz said.

Atz wasn’t alone. California saw significant interruptions of cellphone service due to the planned power shut-offs at precisely the time customers needed to be alerted about evacuation warnings — raising questions about how prepared California is for future electric shut-offs and other public safety emergencies, such as a major earthquake.

Read the full story on LATimes.com

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