A Sydney woman says she was forced to leave her burning home and drive to a local fire station to get help during a Triple-0 system failure.
Mary Anne Gongon says her husband Apollo Karanges, 63, received burns to 40 per cent of his body in a fire that tore through their Redfern home on Friday.
She left her husband at home to fight the fire while she drove to a fire station after not being able to call Triple-0.
“I started calling triple-zero but I just couldn’t get through,” she said. “I tried at least twice. In my frustration, and while half naked, I grabbed the keys and drove to the fire station,” Ms Gongon told the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Karanges suffered burns mostly to his face. He is being treated at the Royal North Shore Hospital, where he will be getting skin grafts.
Telstra believes lightning struck the cable pit in the NSW central-west about 2am on Friday, which resulted in “intermittent” issues with calls to emergency services in NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the outage was a major concern and she wanted to make sure it wasn’t repeated.
“Of course that concerns us, we want to make sure when people need to get triple-zero at the most traumatic times of their lives that they’re able to get through,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
“We want to make sure that never happens again.”
A Telstra spokesman said the company had spoken to Mr Karanges’ family on Sunday morning and apologised, offering them temporary accommodation.
“We take our responsibilities to connect people to Triple-0 very seriously and have deeply apologised for the impact to services,” the spokesman told AAP in a statement.
The spokesman said initial investigations suggested a piece of equipment “did not respond as intended,” after the lightning strike, resulting in some calls not being re-routed as expected.
“This is a focus of our investigation,” the spokesman said.
Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant said while telecommunication lines were the responsibility of the Commonwealth and Telstra, he planned to work with both parties to investigate the issue.
“Community safety is the number one priority of the NSW government and we will be initiating discussions with both Telstra and the Commonwealth to find a solution to ensure this does not occur again,” Mr Grant said in a statement to AAP on Sunday.