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GTE CALIFORNIA REPORTS NO EMPLOYEE INJURIES, SPOTTED SERVICE OUTAGES, AS WIND-SWEPT FIRES RAVAGE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

 THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- GTE California had no reports of employee injuries, structural damage to company facilities or major outages by late afternoon today, as 13 fires, fanned by Santa Ana winds, ravaged the Southland in seven counties.
 In the initial fire affecting the Thousand Oaks area, which started yesterday, one significant outage was the loss of a fiber-optic cable on Laguna Peak in the Santa Monica Mountains. That loss disrupted various non-GTE communications systems on the peak. The cable span was severed this morning when fire swept through the canyons to the Pacific Ocean. Communications for the Point Mugu Naval Yard were not disrupted, as earlier reported.
 GTE had about 1,600 customers out of service in the 330 communities throughout its serving area, as of 5 p.m. today. The largest outage happened mid-morning today in the city of Mentone, near Redlands, where 1,200 customers lost telephone service after fire melted a 12,000-foot fiber-optic cable.
 Other service outages included 260 customers in Yucaipa and 139 customers in Homeland. At 2 p.m. today, GTE also evacuated its Mentone customer contact center and Laguna Beach service yard when those facilities were threatened by encroaching fires.
 GTE urges customers to refrain from using their telephones except for emergencies. This will keep the public phone system open for people truly in an emergency situation. The company suggests that people in fire-affected areas utilize an out-of-state contact to let family and friends know they are safe. This will help keep the California phone network less congested and enhance chances that family and friends nationwide can be more easily contacted.
 To facilitate communications among firefighters on the fireline, GTE has provided the Laguna Fire Department with five mobile cellular telephones and a fax machine. Utility efforts to assess damage and coordinate service restoration are limited because emergency agencies are restricting utilities' access to fire-affected areas.
 However, GTE will continue to man its Emergency Operationing Center, monitor the situation, coordinate restoration efforts and provide periodic media updates until conditions return to normal.
 -0- 10/27/93
 /CONTACT: Larry Cox or Mike Murray of the GTE California 24-hour News Bureau, 800-227-5556/


CO: GTE California ST: California IN: TLS SU:

NY-JL -- LA059 -- 7630 10/27/93 21:19 EDT
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Date:Oct 27, 1993
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