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UPDATES: Cable, e-mail out due to fire

Update: 9:55 p.m. Charter cable TV and high-speed Internet customers across the county lost service tonight after a fire near the summit of the Cuesta Grade burned some of the company's fiber optic cables running along Highway 101.

The outages stretched from North County to as far south as Nipomo, though the extent of the outage was unknown as of 9:50 p.m.

Charter general manager Ed Merrill was reached by phone early tonight on the Grade, where the company was attempting to repair the burned lines. He said it was not yet known when service might come back on.

Charter could not be reached for comment later as all lines were busy.

Earlier, the fire on the Cuesta Grade caused delays as the CHP slows traffic to let an air tanker make a drop.

The fire was first reported at 1:30 p.m., according to the CHP Web site. The blaze was on the east side of the northbound lanes, near the summit.

The air tanker pilot was requesting that a break in traffic be created so the retardant could be dropped. It was expected to fall onto both lanes.

The drop took place just before 2 p.m.

Signs were being put up near Los Osos Valley Road to warn drivers of the fire.

UPDATE: 3:25 p.m.: All lanes on the Cuesta Grade are open, but traffic is reportedly still very heavy and slow.

UPDATE: 3p.m. - Southbound Highway 101 traffic was backed up 1.5 miles, to just south of Highway 58, as if 2:30 p.m., according to the CHP. Northbound traffic was backed up to California Boulevard. The fire was moving toward San Luis Obispo, and signs warning drivers of the traffic were being moved south.

Check back here later today for updates on the fire.

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