Wildfires in British Columbia affected Ketchikan’s city-owned internet provider this weekend.

Ketchikan Public Utilities Telecommunications Division Manager Ed Cushing said KPU experienced a system slow-down when the Williams Lake fire consumed parts of the cable KPU connects to for internet service.

Cushing said usually when service through the Canada connection is interrupted, the system automatically reroutes all traffic to KPU’s undersea connection to Seattle. But, because the Canadian connection wasn’t completely severed – just slowed down – the KPU system didn’t reroute.

“Our network just continued to send what’s akin to several freeways worth of traffic onto a one-lane road,” he said. 

KPU sent out an alert on Saturday via social media warning customers of potentially slow service. Cushing said technicians also quickly started manually rerouting traffic onto faster roads.

“We continued to do that throughout the afternoon into the evening until about 8 p.m., when slowly our Canadian friends started giving us alternate routes so that we could start adding service back onto the microwave,” he said. 

KPU links to the Canadian grid through a microwave connection with Prince Rupert.

Cushing said full capacity was restored by 1 a.m. Sunday. But, he says, the wildfires are still burning, which could lead to more problems for local internet connections.

Cushing recommends KPU internet customers keep an eye on the utility’s Facebook page for the most recent updates about service issues.