Woman forced to drive to fire station during Triple-zero outage


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-zero system failure.

Mary Anne Gongon says her husband received burns to 40 per cent of his body in a fire that tore through their Redfern home on Friday.

Ms Gongon said she left her husband at home to fight the fire while she drove to a fire station after not being able to call triple-zero.

“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.

A Sydney woman claims Friday’s triple-zero outage, caused by a damaged Telstra cable, led to her having to drive to a fire station for help as her home went up in flames. File pic. Source: Getty Images

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.

 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.

A Telstra spokesman later added in a statement that the telco is “deeply concerned” about what happened to the couple and their home and is trying to contact them to apologise.

“Any impact to people or property as a result of the situation is extremely concerning,” he said.

“We have commenced a formal investigation into the fire and subsequent disruption to triple-zero services. We are also continuing to work with emergency services and the government has also indicated it will conduct an investigation and we will cooperate fully.

“Our team on the ground observed significant fire damage consistent with a lightning strike however the full investigation will look at the cause of the fire.”

He added Telstra takes its responsibility to connect people to emergency services via the triple-zero line “very seriously”

“Our initial investigation into the service disruption shows a key piece of equipment did not respond as intended which resulted in some calls not re-routing as expected,” the spokesman said.

“This is a focus of our investigation.”