Charter customers left in the dark one more time

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Power was also cut off for 1,300 Southern California Edison customers.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

As Malibu burned for the second time in a little more than a Month on Saturday, millions of people watched the footage on television throughout the world. But most of those living in this city could only see the fire if they stepped outside, because once again the flames destroyed the cable connection for Charter Communications customers.

Within hours of the fire starting, 12,000 feet of primary fiber-optic cable was destroyed by the blaze, eliminating telephone, Internet and television service for Charter customers in Malibu and surrounding areas. With the fire still going strong, Charter workers could not enter the area to remedy the situation. They were not even allowed into the area once fire crews had cleared it, because first Southern California Edison crews would need to come in to restore the 50 power poles that had burned.

Charter spokesperson Craig Watson said this led to the company in finding a “quick fix” to return cable service to most of its customers. In the afternoon, a smaller-sized amount of fiber was brought into Malibu and placed on the ground in “unoccupied backcountry.” Watson declined to name the area, fearing a vandal could come there to cut the cable. The temporary cable line was connected from the cable signal, or “head-end,” in the area to the first point of undamaged fiber.

“By 11:30 p.m., that [new] fiber line began to light up, and service began to come back,” Watson said.

By late Sunday, 95 percent of customers had all their Charter services restored, Watson said. The only people without service at that point were those living in Corral Canyon, Latigo Canyon, Ramirez Canyon and the mobile home park at Paradise Cove.

“That’s where the most intense part of the fire was,” Watson said. “It burned up the electronics that serve their cluster.”

The electronics had to be rebuilt, and service began to be restored to that area on Monday. Watson expected the service to be fully restored by Tuesday afternoon.

The city’s government and education channels, 3 and 15, had not been restored when The Malibu Times went to print on Tuesday evening. Watson said those channels would not come back until Thursday night when Charter begins restoring the fiber lines to the power poles. He said the reason for that was that the fibers placed temporarily had just enough capacity to bring the cable back for customers.

“It was either those channels come back, or some customers would be without cable for several days,” Watson said.

Charter will replace the permanent lines late Thursday night/early Friday morning. Watson said customers should expect minor problems during that time, including some channels going out for minutes at a time.

Many in Malibu left powerless temporarily

The fire, which sparked at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, disrupted power for more than 1,300 Southern California Edison customers due to the destruction of 50 power poles. Power was restored to all but 100 customers by 5 p.m. that day. Five customers in Corral Canyon were still without power as of Monday night.