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The Village of New Concord had some problems Wednesday after a barn fire cut service to 9-1-1 and thousands of cell phones.
New Concord Fire Chief Brent Gates said the early morning fire happened at 3739 Glenn Highway Along U-S 40 in Guernsey County. The fire burned through the main trunk line of phone lines.
As a result anyone with an 826 exchange was not able to call long distance, outside the village or 9-1-1. Also cell service was down to all providers, except Verizon.
"As I pulled up you could tell there was phone lines, there was 5 of them burning," recalled Gates. "They started burning in half as we arrived and that was probably about 3:12 or 3:15 this morning, so we knew we were in trouble and going to have phone trouble all day."
Due to the outages, Muskingum University, banks and a number of other business were forced to shut down.
Repair crews from Frontier Communications worked nearly all day to repair the damaged cables but Gates said the problem could have been prevented by having a back-up 9-1-1 connection - saving the county both money and potential lives.
"Unfortunately in the Frontier System they did not put in a redundancy like they were suppose to for 9-1-1," expressed Gates. "They had the capabilities in our office here for the 826 exchange to have redundancy where we could have been sent through another fiber-optic and stuff like that, through Bloomfield where they actually hook up with Ameritech and we wouldn't be in this situation."
Muskingum County Emergency Management Agency Director Bo Keck said 9-1-1 and most of the other phone service were restored by 2:00 Wednesday afternoon.