Fire cuts off 13,000 telephone lines

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A multi-million pound fire at a British Telecom exchange in Sheffield left an estimated 80,000 people without phone links. Emergency services patrolled affected areas in the south of the city. A BT spokesman said 13,000 lines had been cut off by the fire.

The blaze early yesterday knocked out the exchange in Meeting House Lane, Woodhouse. A police spokesman said: 'Six emergency vehicles have been sited in the affected areas. Ambulances will be patrolling and there will also be extra police patrols. It is expected to take between 24 and 48 hours to reconnect the emergency call system. It will be several weeks before normal links are restored.'