back to article Network down? Must be New Year's Eve gunfire

Gun-touting buffoons and a pesky raccoon were among some of the more bizarre reasons why a number of Americans suffered power and comms outages during the New Year period. American revellers who were presumably not content with simply opening a bottle of bubbly moonshine to toast the New Year, decided to fire random gunshots …


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  1. Joseph Zygnerski

    Pesky racoons

    My co-workers and I have been joking that network slowdowns and outages at work were caused by a raccoon stuck in the server.

    Looks like one did cause a bit of damage.

  2. Mark Menzies

    Poor racoon

    "He probably was trying to find a warm spot as animals frequently do and it didn't work out too well."

    A cracker of an understatement. Absolutely priceless. :D

    The guns aren't really surprising for our colonial cousins though.

  3. pctechxp

    I've no idea why

    But when I read anything about celebratory gunfire or communication cables being damanged by gunfire I collapse in a heap of laughter.

    Bet the network engineers weren't too happy though.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Comcast officials said the cause of the downtime was due to bullet holes that had ripped into fibre-optic lines."

    Bullet holes that had ripped? Shurely you mean bullets that had ripped holes?

    I have an image of a gun firing high velocity holes. Or something......

  5. James Haley
    Paris Hilton

    Poor Raccoon

    I had a power outage in my neighborhood and the repair work was done next to my house. Naturally I had to walk out and watch.

    Right below the transformer was a raccoon that I assumed had to gone to his great reward. Not so, about an hour after the power outage, he got up and stumbled away. His body language was like that of Paris waking up with a *very* bad hangover.

    Growing up around raccoons, I've seen specimens that could easily go over 100 pounds (45 kilos). The neighborhood lore was to treat raccoons as if they were the monster in a "dead teenager" movie: cross the street to avoid them and don't assume they're dead just because they took a shot that would kill you.

  6. jcipale

    I like racoons...

    They taste like chicken

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Comcast & Raccoons

    OK, technically the two incidents are not related, but I find it highly suspicious that it happens in roughly the same period of time... Who's to say that it really wasn't a failed attempt by animals to bring human civilization to its knees?

    All of those squirrels hit by cars? Really they're a part of an elite army of suicide bombers, most of which get run over before they can detonate.

    Raccoons and electrical transmission equipment... With the exception of primates, raccoons have hands that are close to having opposable thumbs, which makes them perfect agents for highly technical tasks, such as disabling power grids. But since they lack the mental capacity to fully understand the nuances of high voltage and grounding, OR just sloppy work, their missions are usually cut short.

    What about the suicide cow, we read about a few months ago? Sure, it sounded like an innocent isolated incident, where a cow fell off a cliff, on to a car. How can we be sure?

    I think they've declared war on us and lets face it... If you have an army of animals, insects, birds and aquatic life, all banding together to fight a common foe (us), they do have numerical superiority. And even if they lose 10-20%, they still have us outnumbered thousands to one.

    We're screwed.

  8. Brian Miller

    Furry animals and electricity don't mix

    Last year one of the buildings at Microsoft was blacked out for at least a day due to a squirrel in one of the underground power tunnels being fried. And of course, where I grew up, the power pole outside of our house got at least one squirrel or crow a year fried.

    This simply means that we need to get rid of small, furry animals. After all, you never hear about an alligator taking out a substation.

  9. bob


    that was a low blow. it is way easier to make just plain home-made wine.

  10. Paul Hampson

    They hit a fibre optic?

    Now correct me if I am wrong but isn't a fibre optic cable quite small? Even an entire cluster of them is a pretty small and a randomly fired bullet falling from the sky and breaking them- seems a tad improbable!

  11. Unknown_Noel

    Rocky Racoon

    When I lived in East Lansing, Michigan, home to Michigan State University, the local papers would get to run a "Rocky Raccoon" headline about every two years. The university had it's own power generating stations and distribution network, and such a headline was sure to follow the morning after half the campus had blacked out.

    Seems that the critters had a bit of a taste for the insulation used at that time in the substation wiring ...

  12. Petrea Mitchell

    Pesky truck drivers

    Lest you think a sampling error has caught an unusually high amount of truck-related power loss, I work in an industrial area and we get about one power outage per year, with trucks driving into power poles being by far the most common cause.

  13. yeah, right.

    Ah, Warwick VIRGINIA

    @ Paul Hampson: improbable, even highly improbable, does not mean impossible, and still implies a finite probability of it happening. I'll leave finding a nice hot cup of tea up to someone else.

    [And now for something very familiar. Yet another rant about "The Reg" having sold out to the Americans. Tune out if you've seen this before...]

    Here I thought that reading an article on a website "" would sort of make it important that foreign writers would be encouraged to not cause confusion with place names. For instance, as there is a relatively well known "Warwick" in the UK, I might be excused for believing that when "Warwick" is mentioned alone that it might refer to the UK one, rather than Warwick, USA or Warwick, Virginia. Or even Warwick, VA (or is that VI?), which not only immediately locates the place as somewhere in the US, but labels the writer as American for assuming that everyone else knows the abbreviations involved.

    Or is this just another example that "" is becoming just a pseudonym for "", a US based company pretending to be British?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Ah, Warwick VIRGINIA

    Chill. It was carelessness on our part, not parochialism...Kelly is English and works in London.

  15. Captain DaFt

    Signal Cancelling Technology

    In some areas, the optics cables are bundled into larger cables, some as big around as a forearm. To make matters worse, these large bundles are often found right on top of the ground along side of roads out in the midwestern US!

    If you ask why, words like "ease of access", and "cost efficiency" are lobbed at you.

    It's not too uncommon to hear of them being cut by farmer's plowing, or shot up, or even burned in the occasional brushfire.

    (El Reg really needs a WTF? icon for this type of stupidity!)

  16. Joe Good


    Unfortunately, you fail to take into account the sheer volume of ammunition that gets pumped into the night sky on New Year's Eve here in the good ol' U.S. of A. We happily tut-tut at the Iranis/Afghanis/<insert-your-Middle-Eastern-stereotype-here> for firing their weapons into the air at weddings and other celebrations, yet every city I've ever lived in in the U.S. has had at least a few dozen whackos firing rounds into the night on New Year's. Every New Year's Day we get to read about how many people were inadvertently hit. Low probability x large number of incidents = decent probability of this happening SOMEWHERE in the U.S.

    Heck, when I lived in the hills in the San Francisco Bay Area (not exactly a hotbed of redneck rubism), there was a guy up the street from us who would fire off his revolver towards the bay at midnight every New Year's. Unfortunately, the water was roughly 2 miles away, with nothing but low-income housing below. I doubt any of his bullets ever reached the water. We'd call the cops on him every year, but he was quite sneaky; in and out of the house in under 60 seconds, with nothing but 6 evenly-spaced "bangs" to let us know he was at it again.


  17. mr.K
    Black Helicopters

    I bet the Chinese are training racoons as we speak

    About the issue with the optic cables on top of the ground next to the roads:

    In my city, Oslo, Norway, some guy with an excavator cut some cable downtown and major parts of the city lost their broadband connection. Also the light signals for the trains went dead and in effect stopping most of the train traffic in and around Oslo for a day or so, moving loads of people over to other transportation clogging those as well. I also knocked out some emergency phone lines and thus affecting emergency plans to police, fire departments and ambulance.

    Some contractor association complained afterwards that it was too hard and took too long to get answer from the power companies and therefore they should make their maps, over underground power cables and such, public on the Internet. If a guy with an excavator was able to do that by chance, I really wonder what you can do with the blueprint to the city.

    Why does the US fear the Red Chinese Hacker Cyber Warfare Platoons when all they need to do is to have a few people cut a few cables in the desert? Or even better, release cold racoons to seek out and get fried at various power grid gizmos.

    Why blow a plane up when you can just tamper with a railroad line?

    What is the number to bin Laden if I feel like brainstorming with him?

    Why does the black chopper over my house make no sound?

  18. Law

    attacks on technology

    I keep getting attacked by those flying rats they call pigeons.

    The latest one decapitated himself on my car!!! I couldnt believe it.... it had sat in the middle of the road with car after car had going over it as it just sat there at such a hieght it was safe from collision.... then I suddenly saw it appear from under the van in front - at this point, it looked me dead in the eyes and slowly stood up, at the last second an evil grin and a lord of the rings style "YOU WILL NOT PASSSS" stance..... a little clunk and then a feather storm behind my car...... in hindsight I think it was trying to damage my already damaged undercarriage (car full of people + speedbump = BANG!), either that or it saw the damage and wanted to warn me....

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