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Fire in Spiritwood brings down local 911 service

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Fire in Spiritwood brings down local 911 service
Herald file photo.

UPDATE: SaskTel was able to construct a Cellular on Wheels (COW) overnight and services are up in Spiritwood and the immediate surrounding areas. However, Mildred, Chitek Lake, Leoville, Shell Lake, Witchekan Lake, Rabbit Lake and Belbutte were still without service.

“We do have a new building enroute and we are working to restore our transport and core equipment that was damaged in the fire,” read an update at about 4:30 p.m. on Monday.

“Our next priority is getting cellular service operational and we will have crews working overnight to restore cellular service as quickly as possible.”

SaskTel said it will update the public Tuesday morning.

Residents in Spiritwood and the surrounding communities are being asked to drive to their nearest RCMP detachment instead of calling 911 after a SaskTel building in the community caught fire.

The incident happened early in the morning on Sunday, Aug. 23. Spiritwood RCMP report that all local SaskTel services, including phone, internet and cellular services, have been lost. This includes 911 services.

Affected areas go as far north as Chitek Lake, as far south as Rabbit Lake, and as far east as Debden. Service levels west of Spiritwood have yet to be determined.

“At the moment, there is no way to reach 911 in the entire area,” reads a media update from Spiritwood RCMP. “Residents in need of police services will have to drive to their local detachment. The time is will take for the services to be restored cannot be determined at this time. Updates will be sent as information becomes available.”

SaskTel released a statement Sunday afternoon saying repair crews were on site. There is no timetable for when those repairs will be finished, although they do hope to have a wireless solution in place by Sunday night.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority released a statement saying both the Spiritwood and District Health Complex and the Leoville Integrated Health Facility remain open for emergencies, despite the phone and internet service outage. However, they released a statement almost half an hour later saying only the Spiritwood and District Health Complex was open.