Prison needs new telecom system after lightning strike

A firefighter heads into the prison storage building early Wednesday. Prison officials said the damage from the lightning strike and blaze is worse than first thought. - Photo: David Hails

Damage to the telephone and internet lines from a lightning strike at Her Majesty’s Prison Northward early Wednesday is worse than officials first thought.

“Most of the equipment is irreparable,” said Raquel Solomon, the prison service’s human resources manager, after an assessment of the situation Thursday.

Ms. Solomon said Digicel was on site replacing telecommunications servers that were fried by an electrical surge caused by the 1:30 a.m. Wednesday lightning strike.

The bolt struck the roof of the prison storage building, destroying much of the supplies and equipment kept there, including telecom servers and central phone lines.

Ms. Solomon said it was hoped that the phone system could be restored by Friday, or Monday at the latest, and internet service by Friday at the Bodden Town compound.

In the meantime, prison officers were using their cellphones and hand-held radios to communicate.

The inmates were not able to make phone calls using the prison service landline phones, and Ms. Solomon said this had caused some consternation.

“They are frustrated that they don’t have phone access,” she said of the inmates.

Wednesday’s fire took about two-and-a-half-hours to extinguish, according to Chief Fire Officer David Hails. No one was injured in the blaze.

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