FAIRBANKS—A New Year's Eve tradition gone awry has left residents in the Interior community of Tanana without Internet service for more than a week after the town's fiber-optic cable was accidentally shot out by revelers.
It's a New Year's tradition to shoot off guns at midnight in the village at the confluence of the Tanana and Yukon rivers, about 150 miles west of Fairbanks. This year, however, the shooters evidently weren't paying attention where they were pointing their guns when someone shot one of the main fiber-optic cable lines.
"You can't fix stupid," is how Ralph Eller, owner of Yukon Telephone and Supervisions Cable TV, summed up the incident.
The community was still without Internet service on Thursday while Eller waited for parts to arrive to repair the damaged line. Another 20 or so residents in the village have been without TV as a result of the damaged cable.
It appears the cable was shot with a .410-gauge shotgun just after midnight on New Year's Eve. Eller said he collected a half dozen empty .410 shells where the shooter or shooters were standing directly under the line and the cable has got more than a dozen pellet holes in it. The cable was strung about 20 feet high.
Alaska State Troopers traveled to Tanana to investigate the incident and Eller gave them the shotgun shells.
Nobody is admitting to shooting the cable, and troopers told Eller it will be tough to prove anything without witnesses willing to talk. Eller estimated the cost to repair the line at more than $10,000 because the line has to be spliced together, which will take two to three days once parts arrive, he said. Eller filed a claim with his insurance company to pay for the damage.
It's unknown whether the person who shot the line was aiming at it or if it was an accident, Eller said.
"They could have walked 70 feet in either direction and they would not be anywhere near it," he said.
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.