Hunter Heroes Restore Fiber Broadband to Local Communities Amid Southern Oregon Wildfires
Keeping first responders and communities connected; 71,298 feet of fiber restored within 13 days; Almeda Fire, South Obenchain Fire, Table Rock Fire
September 30, 2020
MEDFORD, OR. — Hunter Communications (Hunter) would like to recognize the extraordinary efforts of Hunter crews and employees, many of whom have worked virtually around-the-clock, in restoring critical fiber broadband connectivity to areas devastated by the Almeda, South Obenchain and Table Rock Fires in southern Oregon.
Jim Lamp, Hunter Communications VP of Construction, was in Eureka, California on Tuesday, September 8th, when he started getting word that fires had started in Ashland and were spreading rapidly, heading south.
“We were getting alerts. Customers were going down in the Talent, Oregon area. At the same time, we were monitoring another fire in the Eagle Point, Oregon area. And while we were looking at what we needed to replace, we were watching the news in amazement at how fast the fire was burning.”
“A co-worker and I were up late that night in Eureka (CA) monitoring the fires and getting assessments from our crews – where they were, making sure they were safe. We started calculating distances, preparing to get everything back up quickly. The next morning we headed back to Jackson County. We were in the truck that Wednesday morning when my co-worker (Brian) got the news that his house was gone. I wanted him to take time off, but he said he would be back to work at 6 p.m. Wednesday night.”
The Hunter Hero crews working the wildfires put up 71,298 feet of fiber over 14 days, from September 9 – 23. Normally to repair that amount of fiber would take 23 normal working days.
“Most of the time we worked until 11-12 at night. We just didn’t stop. You drink water when you can, eat when you can. Maybe take a double lunch. Eat breakfast around 6 a.m., and try to wait as long as you can to eat lunch. Around 4 or 5 o’clock, sometimes 6, you eat your second lunch. Then you’d go until you couldn’t go any more or because it was a good stopping point. I tried to keep our crews at 15-16 hours a day to allow enough time to get at least 4 or 5 hours of sleep. However, one day was 22 hours.”
When asked to compare these fires to others he has seen over his career, Jim said:
“Typically the fires that we respond to are in a forest area. You’ll have to replace maybe one or two poles. I have never seen anything like the destruction on the Almeda Fire. You’d go into an area and the whole neighborhood is gone. It was surreal. The only thing standing is the barbeque pits. That burnt plastic chemical smell is everywhere; it gets into your clothes. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way all of our Hunter teams performed in these wildfires. They were stellar. We had an employee who lost his home, and volunteered to go back in to rebuild that community where he no longer has a home, which I think is extraordinary.”
Finally, “I hope you’re somewhere there’s fresh air!”
Hunter Communications provides ultra-high-speed fiber-optic broadband internet, data, and voice services to business and residential customers in communities throughout southern Oregon and northern California, including 2,500 fiber-lit commercial buildings. With Gig speeds, no data caps, and competitive pricing, Hunter’s 2,000+mile fiber network is nationally recognized for performance and reliability. Hunter was recognized by BroadbandNow with four 2020 Internet Service Provider Awards, including for fastest business internet speeds in Oregon and among the top 10 nationwide. Founded in 1992, Hunter is headquartered in Medford, Oregon where the company established a legacy of service excellence and commitment to local communities. Hunter Communications was acquired in 2020 by Grain Management LLC. Additional information is available at Hunterfiber.com.