Thousands affected by 911 system breakdown in San Bernardino County's High Desert [Updated]
The 911 system in San Bernardino County's High Desert area broke down Thursday afternoon after apparent damage to a fiber-optic line, officials said.
The outage, officials said, affects tens of thousands of people in an area stretching roughly from the top of the Cajon Pass to Barstow. Law enforcement and fire and medical emergency dispatches were affected.
Officials were trying to identify the location of the damaged line and had no idea when the emergency system would be working, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Department, whose dispatchers operate the system.
Residents are asked to call (760) 245-4211 for law enforcement-related calls or (760) 245-5311 for fire and medical calls.
[Updated at 5:18 p.m.: Barstow-area residents are asked to call (760) 256-1796.]
"Obviously it slows the down the response time," said Tracy Martinez, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department. But, she added, "I haven't heard that it's affected us negatively."
County dispatchers handle about 18,000 emergency calls a month, said Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman.
Previously, she said, the system was knocked out of service on other occasions after lines were damaged during construction projects. "It's usually accidental," she told The Times.
Cellphone callers were also affected, depending on their location. Officials said sheriff's dispatchers handle about half the 911 wireless calls in the High Desert. The others are routed first to the California Highway Patrol.
-- Robert J. Lopez