Sisters businesses impacted by fire

 

Last updated 8/8/2023 at 10:14am



For much of Sunday, July 30, the entirety of Sisters, Black Butte, and a good portion of Redmond were without Internet as a result of a fire that occurred when a passenger vehicle hit a gas tank truck headed toward Sisters. Power was out for some four to six hours, depending on location.

The burning truck was parked immediately under the high-tension electrical lines, the main feed from the Redmond power distribution station to Sisters.

Flames burned through the power and communications lines overhead. Central Electric Cooperative (CEC), with crews always on stand by for such events, restored power in relatively short order. TDS Telecom, however, took hours longer to restore the lost fiber optic cable that carries nearly all of Sisters’ internet and landline phone traffic. Even some cell phones experienced erratic coverage as the complex system shut down. Electricity, being critical to infrastructure — even life-saving — is always restored first and telecom repair crews cannot even start their work until the power lines are repaired.

Without Internet to connect to credit card processing or online order systems, a number of businesses could not open their doors Sunday. Sno-Cap closed for the day, a major loss as up to 25 percent of their weekly gross occurs on Sunday. McDonald’s had their full crew at the ready, but could not open its doors.

All other businesses up and down the tourist core resorted to cash-only, sending shoppers scurrying to ATMs, some of which were out of order from the same Internet outage. A few merchants are fed by satellite and avoided any disruption. When asked about redundancy, a TDS spokesman explained that the only affordable way into town was to hang its telecom cable on the power lines. Buried cable is out of the question due to local terrain.

 

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