June 5, 7:00 a.m. update – After five days, Comcast service was restored in Taos Tuesday (June 5).
While the Ute Park Fire was blistering through vegetation Thursday (May 31) near Cimarron, Comcast and some CenturyLink customers in Taos entered their own internet meltdown.
Comcast, CenturyLink and Kit Carson Telecom customers lost internet and cell service that day after the Ute Park Fire burned some main fiber optic lines and other equipment.
By Saturday, Kit Carson customers had internet and cell service.
Comcast and CenturyLink customer still don't and might not have it until Monday (June 11), according to customer service recordings.
The difference? Kit Carson Telecom worked more than 24 hours straight to get their redundant lines running and installed mobile cell sites at least for emergency responders working the fire. By June 2, most Kit Carson customers had internet and cell service, at least intermitantly.
Some CenturyLink customers in Taos retained their services through the weekend, but many, like David Height, hasn't had internet for four days and that's been hell on his business.
Height, one of the owners of First New Mexico Title and Abstract in Taos, said Monday afternoon (June 4) the business had lost internet service four days prior. He called CenturyLink several times. "They are giving you zero time frames. Not committing to repair time at all," Height said.
The title company relies heavily on the internet for property research, email and managing a database. "It's been traumatic," said Height. "I give all credit to Taos Net. They literally pulled us out of the fire."
Height said Taos Net had managed to find a workaround to get internet restored to the company.
CenturyLink did not respond to an email or a tweet seeking comment.
All Comcast customers in Taos remained without internet as well on June 4.
Julianne Phares, Director of External Affairs for Comcast in Albuquerque confirmed the problem.
"The Ute Park Fire has damaged fiber lines serving Taos, resulting in an Internet and phone outage for Comcast customers in Taos and Taos County," Phares said in an email. "Limited video services continue to be available, allowing customers to access news and information."
In part repairs to the fiber optic cables are stymied by the still-burning Ute Park Fire.
"We do not have an estimated time of resolution, as we are reliant on several third-party partners and emergency services who have not yet granted fiber repair crews access to the damaged areas," Phares said. "Safety remains our top priority - for our customers, employees and the communities we serve."
The ongoing internet outage has affected gas stations, grocery stores and even McDonald's in Taos, which had a sign on the drive-up window Sunday afternoon noting they couldn't accept credit or debit cards for purchase over $20 due to the internet outage.
And fire or no, some customers aren't waiting around for CenturyLink and Comcast to figure out the solution.
"Just canceled service with them," posted Mike Bruce on Facebook Monday of his Comcast service. "Kit Carson saved the day."