On October 8, 2017, a series of fires started in Northern California, fueled by wind and dry vegetation. These fires destroyed more than 7,000 structures as they burned through 36,800 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties over an agonizing 23 days. The largest, the Tubbs fire, was the most destructive in California's history.
And while the fires were extinguished more than 6 months ago, Ian Riggle recalls the instantly recognizable smell of smoke like it was yesterday.
Riggle, a senior sourcing specialist, looked outside on that early-October day and saw that smoke was thick around his home. After evacuating his family to a safer area, he jumped online and saw that 90 cell sites were already off-air due to burned fiber. And the fires were moving unbelievably fast and burning everything in their path.
Ian and team kept our wireless network 99% operational, working long days all month, with a mask over his mouth to breathe.
"This hit close to home," Ian said. "I used to live in a neighborhood that's no longer there. I have friends who were evacuated, and making sure their phones worked was important, like it is every day. But in a disaster, it's even more important."