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Tech companies feel impact of wildfires

As fires rage through Southern California, tech companies, including Iomega and Microsoft, are struggling with disruptions to their operations and other forms of fallout.

As wildfires rage through Southern California, tech companies, including Iomega and Microsoft, are struggling with disruptions to their operations and other forms of fallout.

The fires, which have resulted in more than a dozen deaths, have destroyed approximately 400,000 acres and over 1,100 homes. The disaster prompted Iomega to close its San Diego headquarters on Monday. Other companies, such as Microsoft and Qualcomm, also had to make some spur-of-the-moment changes.

"We closed our headquarters for the day and will monitor the situation day by day," said Chris Romoser, a spokesman for storage maker Iomega. He noted the temporary closure affected approximately 100 people at Iomega's headquarters.

Romoser said the decision was made after the mayor of San Diego urged companies to allow their workers to remain at home.

The San Diego fire, or Cedar Fire, emitted embers that touched off small brush fires within a quarter-mile from Gateway's headquarters. But the computer maker's facilities were left untouched.

"We were very, very fortunate," said Bob Sherbin, a Gateway spokesman. "We told employees if they needed to take the day off today that was fine."

Qualcomm, meanwhile, posted a notice on its Web site that listed various resources available, including the use of a temporary shelter set up in one of its campus buildings in San Diego. The Cedar Fire came within 10 miles of Qualcomm.

Microsoft encountered a problem of a different kind. The software giant on Monday kicked off its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles with keynote speeches from Chairman Bill Gates and Jim Allchin, Microsoft's group vice president. But some of the attendees faced trouble getting to the event, because a number of flights to Los Angeles were canceled or delayed for hours.

Microsoft posted a notice on its Web site that informed attendees they would still be able to see a replay of some presentations later in the week. A Microsoft spokesman said transcripts from the executives' keynote speeches will be posted on the company's Web site late Monday.