More than a dozen wildfires in Northern California have damaged or destroyed cellular telephone and Internet infrastructure in some areas, and Amateur Radio has helped to fill the communication gap. Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman told news media on October 10 that damage to cell towers and fiber optic telephone phone and computer lines had left officials relying on Amateur Radio operators to communicate with area hospitals.
ARRL contacted Robin Carter, a resident of the Willits area in Mendocino County, who confirmed to ARRL that ham radio operators until midweek were stationed at all North County hospitals and large nursing homes, supplementing the county’s emergency communication system. She said cell and landline telephone service was knocked out at her home, along with the fiber optic Internet connection, although the family has satellite Internet, and conventional Internet service was at least temporarily restored on Wednesday.
Her husband Mike Carter, KC6MGM, a Mendocino County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteer, had until Wednesday been staffing a station at Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits for 12 hours a day.