SANTA ROSA, Calif. — As fires continued to spread in northern California, residents of Sonoma County experienced an information gap when several radio stations were knocked off the air Monday morning, according to the Press Democrat. The outages, originating at the Mount Barham transmitter site, lasted for about 24 hours.
The radio silence complicated a communications infrastructure that was already challenged, with reports of cell site outages and spotty internet connectivity. The Washington Post reports that about 80 cell towers have been damaged by the fires as of Wednesday morning.
Amaturo Sonoma Media Group had one of its five stations knocked off the air, but KRSO(AM/FM) was able to continue to share updates, which were simulcast on three other FM stations. The feed was also used for KBBF(FM) of Calistoga, Calif., which typically broadcasts Spanish-English programming and is owned by the Bilingual Broadcasting Foundation.
Wine Country Radio’s KSXY(HD2) went silent due to the Mount Barham transmitter failure, but KRSH(FM), KXTS(FM) and KSXY(FM) stayed on the air.
Also, public radio station KRCB(FM)’s main transmitter went off the air, but the station continued streaming from downtown Santa Rosa.
Spanish language station KRSS(AM) was also affected by the transmitter loss on Mount Barham but was back on the air as of Tuesday.
According to the Washington Post, the death toll was reported at 17 people, as of Wednesday morning.