A major phone outage in Midtown has left thousands of people without dial tones, and a solution is still days away. Landlines, Internet access and fax machines for many Verizon customers in the area have been shut down since Tuesday after a fire melted cables inside a manhole at 38th Street and Madison Avenue.
Verizon, which doesn't know the cause of the fire, said yesterday that as many as 10,000 customers in both homes and businesses are still without landlines in the heart of the city.
"At this point, we haven't estimated how soon we'll have it [repairs] all done . . . possibly sometime next week," said Verizon spokesman Cliff Lee.
"It's going to be a very time-consuming process, because of the situation and the [underground] location."
To ease the pain, Verizon has placed vans with free phones for the public to use in the affected area and will offer rebates for affected customers. But the outage has business owners fuming as they struggle to operate without fax machines, e-mail or regular phones.
"It's impossible to run a law firm without e-mail and faxes in 2005," said Paul Korngold, a partner at Tuchman, Katz, Schwartz, Gelles, Korngold and Weiss, whose lines have been down since the start of business on Wednesday.
It's still not clear what sparked the manhole fire that caused the problem. Verizon said that by yesterday workers had gotten fiber optic lines working, but they still had to repair melted copper wires.