Story and chronology provided to PTBOCanada.com by the communications team at Nexicom. We're running it verbatim...
On Sunday, January 20th at approximately 3:45 a.m., a farmer in Bridgenorth, Ontario saw a bright flash outside his window followed by a loud crack. Lightning has just struck a 250 foot communications tower near his farm. The tower and the accompanying ground equipment bring telephone, internet, television, or a combination of the services to nearly 4,000 homes in the area. Little did the farmer know at the time, but what he had just witnessed would be the catalyst of a fire that in a few hours would destroy the Nexicom’s Bridgenorth communication hub and bring those 4,000 homes to a technological dark age.
A few hours after the initial lightning strike, a Nexicom Field Technician was woken by an alert triggered as the events in Bridgenorth started to unfold. While this facility is unmanned, the property is under constant surveillance via security alarms and detectors. This particular alert prompted the Nexicom Tech to further investigate. What he found as he pulled up to the site was not one of the scenarios he had played through in his mind on the drive over. The building was fully engulfed in flames and the fire crews were working quickly to extinguish the fire. By 7:30 a.m., where once stood a building housing the complex communications network needed to supply services now is just a pile of twisted metal and smoldering remains.
By now John and Paul Downs, owners of Nexicom, and their management team were starting to gather in a boardroom at Nexicom to assess the situation and build an action plan. Nearly 4,000 customers were now without their Nexicom services. The tower that had been struck was a main station that, on top of Telephone service, provides Digital Television signals to Lakefield, Bridgenorth, Keene, Mount Pleasant, and Millbrook as well as internet signals to 13 Wireless Internet towers. The area of services affected reached nearly 75 kilometers.
The following is a chronology of the events as they unfolded throughout the week:
SUNDAY, JANUARY 20th
3:45am - during a winter electrical storm, the Nexicom Communication hub in Bridgenorth is struck by lightning
6am - reports that Telephone and Cable Television continue to operate properly. (later confirmed)
7am - flames noticed by passerby. Due to high winds, there was little Fire Crews can do. Fire consumes the Nexicom Communication hub affecting service to fifteen Wireless Internet towers, Bridgenorth / Lakefield Telephone and Internet customers, Cable TV in Millbrook, Keene, Mount Pleasant, Bridgenorth and Lakefield
10am - Managers and Technical staff meet to plan a strategy to restore services to customers
MONDAY, JANUARY 21st
-Clean up of site continues
-Replacement equipment is gathered and organized
TUESDAY, JANUARY 22ND
-Temporary building arrives to house equipment
-Installation of the service racks begins
-Fiber is re-run to temporary building
-Tower climbers and Electricians on site begin the process of restoring services
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23RD
-First pieces of equipment are connected, bringing six Wireless Internet towers back online.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 24TH
-Work continues and five additional Wireless Internet towers are brought back online.
-By evening, pockets of Telephone and Internet customers in Bridgenorth and Lakefield return to service.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 25TH
-All Telephone and Internet customers serviced via Cable connectivity are restored
-One half of the Wireless Internet Service, provided by the Bridgenorth tower (site of fire), is restored
-Basic Cable TV is restored with limited channels
SATURDAY, JANUARY 26TH
-All Wireless Internet towers are restored to normal (or improved) service.
-By Saturday nearly all services had been restored. The work continues through the following weeks to bring services back to a level Nexicom customers have become accustomed to.
* * * * * * *
Technicians continue to make improvements to the Digital Cable TV service, upgrades to Wireless Internet equipment, and let us not forget…begin to build a brand new permanent facility to replace the former building.
Make no mistake, this is a devastating event to befall any business, let alone a Communication Service Provider. Only through hard work, the generous outreach from industry leaders (in some cases competitors), and the patience, understanding and loyalty of so many customers was Nexicom able to overcome such near catastrophe.
The work continues for the staff of Nexicom, but its customers can take comfort in the old adage....what does not break you, makes you stronger.