MARBLE FALLS, Texas (KXAN) - The US 281 bridge in Marble Falls is no longer standing. The scheduled blast over Lake Marble Falls was impressive.
Dozens of spectators and city officials who gathered a safe distance away received a one minute warning and recited the ten second countdown together.
Only those watching in person were lucky enough to see the implosion as it happened. KXAN reporter Ignacio Garcia and KXAN Photojournalist Frank Martinez were live on the air rolling on the moment for all of Central Texas to see.
As soon as the crowd counted down to one, the TV screen froze and blacked out. It took 15 minutes for the KXAN newsroom to reach the crew on the ground. Ignacio and Martinez drove two miles away from the bridge to regain a cell phone signal.
They were able to relay the message that the blast triggered a communication meltdown. Cell phones stopped working along with first responder radios. KXAN also confirmed the 911 call centers in Marble Falls, Burnet and Llano were knocked offline and the Burnet County Sheriff's Office dispatchers started fielding all calls.
In the meantime, a viewer who captured video of the implosion on a cell phone came to the rescue. Keis Fletcher, an 11-year-old boy from Marble Falls emailed his footage to Reportit@kxan.com.
Before 9 a.m. we were able to broadcast the video during KXAN News Today for viewers across Central Texas to see.
The blast was so powerful, a KXAN viewer who lives 26-miles away in Burnet said she could feel her house shake.
Sunday afternoon, crews were still working to restore phone service. The Capital Area Council of Governments released a statement Sunday saying, "A major fiber cut in Marble Falls, Texas is causing disruptions to telephone and 9-1-1 service in the following counties: Burnet, Llano, and Blanco Counties. If you are experiencing issues reaching 9-1-1, please seek assistance at the nearest sheriff's office, police station, fire or EMS station."
Fiber Optic Cable that runs next to bridge was damaged by shrapnel, cutting communications to dispatch call centers, which are now rerouted to Burnet County until the problem is repaired. No emergency calls came in during that time.
Burnet County officials released a statement as well, saying, "Areas of Burnet, Blanco, and Llano Counties are without telephone service due a major telephone line being damaged this morning when TxDOT and Archer Western used explosives to demolish the old US 281 bridge in Marble Falls.
Cell phones and Land Line telephones are out of service."
Burnet County said Verizon estimates that some service will be restored late Sunday night.
"Citizens should take precaution to check on neighbors and family members in the impacted areas for any emergency assistance. Law Enforcement, Fire, and EMS are operational with their radio systems, but can only receive 911 Emergency Calls to the Burnet County 911 Dispatch Center," officials said.
Marble Falls Fire Rescue Chief Johnny Caraway said shrapnel damage wastewater lines near the bridge.
"Wastewater runs through double lines, so no spillage happened. Sewage is being rerouted until the pipes are repaired, which should be by sometime Sunday evening," Caraway said.
Anyone needing emergency services should call the Burnet County Sheriff's Office dispatchers at 512-756-8080.
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