Firefighters in the field and evacuees at shelters in the Kern Valley are using Verizon's networks to stay connected during the Bull Fire, which has so far consumed more than 15,000 acres.
To help fire crews communicate as they battle the blaze, Verizon Wireless has provided them with 15 Mobile Broadband devices and 30 wireless phones.
"The devastation caused by wildfires affects our customers, communities and employees," said Kevin Zavaglia, region president for Verizon Wireless. "We are committed to helping firefighters and displaced residents stay connected when it matters most."
To support Verizon residential and business customers who have evacuated because of the fire, Verizon is offering - at no charge - to automatically forward telephone calls to a working phone number at another location or to a wireless number.
"As we enter another fire season in California, we know that staying in touch with friends and family is more important than ever during a crisis," said Margaret Serjak, operations president for Verizon in California. "We hope Verizon's free call-forwarding service provides some peace of mind to customers who have left their home because of this fire."
In addition, the Verizon Foundation has donated $5,000 to the Kern County Chapter of the American Red Cross to provide relief supplies for evacuees at shelters during the fire.
Verizon customers who set up call forwarding while they are evacuated will not be billed onetime fees or monthly charges for the service, but they will be responsible for any toll charges on forwarded calls and airtime charges if the calls go to a wireless phone. Verizon is also waiving set-up fees for customers who have lost their home and want to establish service at a new location or who reestablish service when they rebuild their home. Residential customers who need these services should call Verizon at 1-800-483-1000; business customers should call 1-800-483-2000.
As of Wednesday (July 28), the fire had caused a telephone outage in Johnsondale, and Verizon crews were standing by to begin repairs as soon as it is safe to enter the burned area.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 92 million customers nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers innovative, seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon last year generated consolidated revenues of more than $107 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.