Northwestel says fire not threatening fibre-optic link
Fire burning near Watson Lake not considered a threat says spokesperson
A fire burning south of Watson Lake has some northerners worried about an Internet outage.
But on July 9 Northwestel said it was not especially concerned under current conditions.
Spokesperson Adriann Kennedy said it's most probable the buried cable will survive even if the fire burns nearer.
Kennedy adds that even if a fire did reach the buried cable it wouldn't necessarily mean an outage.
"Not every fire threat will result in damage," she said. "The fire south of Fort Nelson B.C. on Wednesday did pass over our fibre line alongside the Alaska highway and we recorded no damage."
Kennedy says there have been four other incidents of fires crossing Northwestel's fibre optic line this summer without affecting service.
Businesses warn clients to prepare
Some businesses in Whitehorse have warned their customers to be ready.
On July 9 the Best Western Gold Rush Inn in Whitehorse slipped a note under every door asking guests to "please plan all communications as a proactive measure should Northwestel lose their fiber connection."
Whitehorse resident and computer technician Martin Lehner says it's normal that people are worried. He says there's a lot riding on one cable and that means the territory's Internet is vulnerable.
While the fibre-optic cable isn't the only source of Internet, it is by far the fastest.
Lehner says Yukoners also have the slower, radio-tower-based microwave system which Northwestel could use, though certain uses would have to be made a priority such as emergency services.
Kennedy says crews work to protect infrastructure from fire during the summer. Their work includes burying cables in sand and cutting tree branches which are near above-ground cables to protect them from fire.