Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Explosion in Downtown Calgary Tower Causes Telecommunications Chaos

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Explosion in Downtown Calgary Tower Causes Telecommunications Chaos

Article excerpt

Explosion causes telecommunications chaos

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CALGARY - An explosion in an electrical room on the 13th floor of Shaw Communications' downtown headquarters caused telecommunications chaos across Calgary on Wednesday.

Fire chief Bruce Burrell said the blast and resulting fire affected the ability of Shaw customers to make 911 calls, brought down Alberta Health Services computers and even affected some banking services such as some ATMs.

"The biggest, most critical issue that we're trying to work on is the AHS network," Burrell said at a news conference Wednesday evening.

"We need to get that network up probably as our first priority. Right now they're saying it has no impact on patient care, but it will when they start looking at scheduling surgeries for the morning."

However, Burrell later said he had been notified by AHS officials there were no plans to cancel surgeries Thursday morning.

He described the building as "a hub of information for a number of clients, not just within the city of Calgary but some of them are provincial and some of them are, in fact, national companies."

He said IBM occupies a couple of floors in the building and their services, too, were affected.

The fire was extinguished by Wednesday afternoon but Burrell said the scope of the damage would not be able to be assessed until power was restored to the building.

He said a backup generator was being brought in, but he could not say when the building would be powered up again.

"We've activated the municipal emergency plan based on the recommendation of the deputy chief of the fire department," he said.

In the downtown core, no one using a Shaw telephone could contact 911. Burrell said that would be about 30,000 customers.

In the event of an emergency, he recommended people use their cell phones, contact a neighbour or if necessary, go to another location to seek help. …

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