Kings County Education Department says vandal may have set damaging fire in school's internet tower

By The Leader Staff
The scene in Stratford as internet tower burns.
The scene in Stratford as internet tower burns.
Photo Courtesy of Kings County Office of Education

Kings County Department of Education officials reported that a vandal may have recently set a fire inside one of the education department’s internet towers at Stratford Elementary School.  Kings County Fire promptly responded, but unfortunately, according to county officials,  the fire melted all of the cables that run inside the tower.

Kings County’s Office of Education is the internet provider for all schools in the county’s 13 districts. It has a network of towers and fiber lines throughout the county that provide access to physical school sites, and wireless connectivity to approximately 4,000 families.

 According to Kings County Superintendent of Schools, Todd Barlow, the equipment on top may be okay but officials won't know until they can get a crew to pull more cable.

“This effectively eliminates all the internet to that school including our nearby preschool,” said Barlow.  “This also destroyed our wireless capability (KingsNet) and the Verizon installation that is on that tower.”

Barlow went on to say that until there are repairs or replacements of the connectivity there will be no internet access for staff and students at Stratford Elementary and about 70 community members who will lose service unless they have it on their phones and use a provider other than Verizon. 

“The elementary students are not currently in session, but August is fast approaching and there are students in summer programs at high school and community college to think about,” added Barlow. 

Barlow indicated that there are mitigation efforts underway.

“First, our IT department was already working on a fiber-optic project to connect Stratford Elementary.  That project is close to completion but is stalled because of a permit issue.  We contacted our internet provider, CENIC, and they are going to explain our situation to Comcast and PG&E to hopefully get this connection expedited on their end.”

Barlow went on to say that county education officials contacted the City of Lemoore to try and expedite an existing permit on its end. Barlow said they fully expect that link to be up and running before school starts, but with the service being compromised, it becomes much more vital that it is completed ASAP. 

Kings County Education Department says vandal may have set damaging fire in school's internet tower

County officials will inspect the damaged tower to be sure it is safe before scheduling any kind of cable replacement or other work.

“Our inspector has been included in all of our email threads and we are also contacting him by phone to see how quickly we can get that taken care of.  There is a possibility that he could condemn the tower and then we would have to remove and replace it.  That would potentially involve the Department of State Architect and would likely not be a quick process,” said Barlow.

He also said that the County Office is looking into the feasibility of purchasing or renting a temporary crank-up tower.

Barlow said that as for the vandalism, Kings County officials have footage of the person who did this, and they have sent that footage on to the Kings County Sheriff's Office. They were very helpful when filing an incident report.

“On behalf of the students and community of Stratford, we are reaching out to local, state, and federal representatives.  Any leverage or assistance they can lend to remedy this situation, especially involving the issuance of permits, would be greatly appreciated,” said Barlow.  

Comments powered by Disqus