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Heat cooks Verizon voice mail for 220,000

More than 220,000 Verizon business and residential customers north and west of Boston lost their voice-mail service over the weekend, and perhaps longer, when equipment at two phone company facilities overheated.

A Verizon spokesman, Philip G. Santoro, said chilling units that keep the voice-mail equipment from overheating went down three times for a total of about nine hours , knocking out the voice-mail systems.

Santoro said Verizon crews worked Saturday night and Sunday morning repairing the units and don't expect the problem to recur as temperatures are expected to soar even higher later this week.

Santoro said communities as far north as Lawrence and Andover and as far west as Worcester saw their voice mail go down.

Jeff Sirlin , president of school-fundraisers.com in Newton, estimated his business missed 24 calls over the weekend. He said customers began e-mailing when they couldn't get through, saying their calls had been incorrectly routed to the voice mails of other businesses or individuals.

``It's put my business in a tight spot right now," Sirlin said.

Jacqui Fishman , who runs Hanover Sport, a marketing and promotional company in Newton, said her voice-mail service was out until midday yesterday .

``It basically means no one could reach me, and that's really scary when you're running a business," Fishman said.

Santoro said he was not aware that calls to one customer's voice mail had been routed to another's . He said there may have been a period of time over the weekend when the voice-mail system was operating improperly, but he said calls during that time would have been greeted with a generic voice-mail response .

Bruce Mohl can be reached at mohl@globe.com.

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