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Fire in BT data centre leads to internet disruption

By Rebecca Black

Published 25/06/2015

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in May Street yesterday
Firefighters at the scene of the fire in May Street yesterday

There was online chaos across Northern Ireland yesterday following a small fire at a key British Telecom building.

Businesses, homes and public bodies were all affected by the crash.

The Housing Executive saw its website and a number of systems go down after the blaze at Telephone House on May Street in Belfast city centre early yesterday.

The PSNI website also went down, but a spokesman insisted there was no disruption to its databases.

Scores of businesses and domestic customers also lost their internet connection for most of the day.

A spokeswoman for BT said she could not comment on how many businesses and customers were affected by the fire, saying "that level of detail was not yet available".

It is understood the blaze erupted in the data centre.

It serves a number of major Government and State bodies as well as the PSNI and Housing Executive, the Department of Finance and the Department of Justice.

The Housing Executive was still working yesterday afternoon to restore all services. A spokeswoman said it was business as usual with its offices open.

"There have been disruptions to internal IT systems and some online services have been affected," she said.

"We have communicating with our tenants via social media throughout the day to keep them updated with regard developments."

A BT spokeswoman said the fire disrupted the power supply to the data centre only.

"No customer data or equipment was damaged," she said.

BT said a small number of workers were evacuated at 6.15am when the fire was discovered on the fourth floor of the huge building.

May Street, Seymour Street and Gloucester Street were closed for a time while firefighters tackled the blaze.

They reopened around 8am.

Fire crews spent a substantial amount of time ventilating smoke out of the building.

BT has confirmed that a full health and safety assessment has been completed and there are no safety concerns for staff.

"A full investigation as to the cause of the incident is currently under way," the spokeswoman said.

The Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze is being treated as accidental.

Some of the websites that experienced disruption yesterday included: PSNI, Belfast City Council, Police Ombudsman, Translink, Derry City and Strabane District Council, NIE, Audiences NI, Simon Community, Business In The Community NI and John Minnis Estate Agents.

There was also widespread disruption to internet services across the province.

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