LOS ANGELES -- Pacific Bell's telephone service to millions of Southern California customers was disrupted for nearly three hours yesterday by congested circuits that blacked out the metropolitan Los Angeles area to incoming calls and created problems at the city's 911 emergency service center.
The effects of the failure created chaos in the Los Angeles Police Department's communication center, where 911 calls are answered.
Extra operators were deployed to answer calls there, officials said.
"It was pandemonium," said communication center supervisor Laura Robles. "We had a little over 400 calls in the first 30 minutes. People who dialed regular numbers wound up here. [Other] people panicked. They couldn't dial out, so they called 911 to see if it worked. It was a mess."
The operators said several people with "real emergencies" apparently had difficulty getting through.