Some people who used a downtown parking garage Wednesday got a pleasant surprise when they found out that parking was free.

But the reason was nothing to celebrate, but was more of a safety concern. The gates were up at two EasyPark garages at 6th Avenue and H Street, and 7th Avenue and G Street because of a fiber optic cable that was damaged, disrupting internet service.  

EasyPark Spokeswoman Melinda Gant said almost every operation in the garage depends on internet access and without it they go into “emergency mode."

"And what that means is, we just open up our gates,” said Gant. “We say to our staff, ‘OK we need more people to walk through our garages and be more visible.’ We know that our cameras are down as well for our garages. So we just want to make sure people are safe and people have a way to get in and out of our garages.”

Alaska Communications, which owns the cable, called fixing it a top priority. Spokeswoman Heather Marron wrote in an email the cable was damaged in downtown Anchorage Tuesday night and that it was impacting local internet and voice services.

She did not give an estimate for how many customers were affected or when it might be fixed.

Gant said they were told the repair might not happen until Thursday, so until then parking in the two garages will remain free.

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