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911 outage due to U.P. power issue, officials investigate

Staff and wire reports

A company that provides 911 services for some of Michigan's residents is investigating an early Friday outage because of a power disruption that lasted hours, officials said.

Peninsula Fiber Network, a Marquette company, estimates that the disruption, which started at 2:10 a.m., caused fewer than 100 lines to go down.

Dave McCartney, general manager of the network, said they don't have complete answers but determined Friday afternoon that it was related to an electrical issue in the central office in the Upper Peninsula where the network rents space.

"A fiber-optic line was being updated when the system crashed and when it came back from a hard crash, it didn't restore," he said.

"It created intermittent service outage in the 911 network. Calls were still going through but it was non-consistent."

The system was restored for everyone at about 5:30 a.m., according to officials from the network company, though state police reported it was fixed at 7 a.m.

"We're still discussing with the manufacturers of the materials to try to figure out why and how the equipment crashed," McCartney said. "Fortunately, it was a relatively low time in call volume but not a zero during that time. Every call counts and we take this very seriously."

The problem affected emergency lines in a range of areas including the Upper Peninsula, Grand Rapids and about 40 counties in the state, police said.

Dispatch centers in places like downtown Detroit were "up and running" because the lines they run are copper rather than fiber optics, but departments in places such as Oakland County that have fiber optic lines were down, said Lt. Mike Shaw, a spokesman for the Michigan State Police.

"It does concern us for sure," Shaw said during the outage. "That is the lifeline that everybody remembers and as we've slowly developed away from the dial phone and having a list of numbers standing by your phone, most people if they an emergency pick up their cellphone and dial 911. And when you can't get through that number, that becomes a problem because we have enough trouble with people knowing who their police department is let alone what their administrative number is."

State police had provided a list of administrative numbers callers may use if they found their 911 calls went unanswered.

Shaw said the first order is to "fix the problem and take a look at it afterward (to) figure out how this never happens again."