Phone service restored in Swanville three days after fire at CenturyLink building

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

A trailer stationed outside of the CenturyLink building in Swanville is serving as a temporary central office, housing the switch equipment necessary to connect calls. Technicians, engineers and an operations support team was able to outfit the trailer with equipment from St. Cloud, Mora and La Crosse, Wis.

A trailer stationed outside of the CenturyLink building in Swanville is serving as a temporary central office, housing the switch equipment necessary to connect calls. Technicians, engineers and an operations support team was able to outfit the trailer with equipment from St. Cloud, Mora and La Crosse, Wis.

Swanville 911 service was up and running at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, after several days of no phone service. A fire destroyed the equipment in the CenturyLink building Jan. 2, leaving Swanville residents without phone service.

Firemen extinguished the fire in about an hour, but it took several days for CenturyLink technicians to replace the equipment.

During that time, Swanville firefighters and Morrison County Sheriff’s deputies were on hand at the Swanville Fire Hall to help residents make needed phone calls, especially emergency phone calls.

Carrie Amann, market development manager said CenturyLink received reports of loss of service Jan. 3, within the first 16 hours of the fire.

“However, service to those areas was restored during that time frame,” she said. “It was the local service – dial tone – in Swanville that took the most time to restore.”

Overnight Jan. 5, all customers’ phone service was connected. The final group of customers was connected at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 6.

CenturyLink had crews working 24/7 for several days to clear damage from the fire, bring in new equipment and restore service.

Replacement cards and equipment, along with new cable, had to be picked up and driven to Swanville from St. Cloud, Mora and even La Crosse, Wis., Amann said.

Residents will see a trailer outside of the CenturyLink central office on Third Street in Swanville.

“That trailer is serving as a temporary central office, housing the switch equipment that is necessary to connect calls,” said Amann.

“Building a central office can take months at a time, so the fact that CenturyLink’s technicians, engineers and operations support team were able to pull something together over a weekend is commendable. They put in a lot of long hours around the clock,” Amann said.

The trailer will be there until CenturyLink is able to gut the inside of the central office and rebuild.

“It was an incredible effort by everyone,” said Joanna Hjelmeland of CenturyLink. “We appreciate the great community support from the Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department.”

“The ultimate objective is to give the best possible service to our customers,” said Amann. “Should customers have any other repair needs, they are being asked to call 1 (800) 573-1311.”

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