Phone Service Restored to Most of San Jose Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Phone service was restored Thursday night to most of the thousands of people in the San Jose area left without cell phone, Internet and landline service because of vandals who severed eight fiber optic cables, officials said.

San Jose police said there was evidence that someone removed a manhole cover and severed four fiber optic cables. The incident cut phone and Internet service for thousands in Santa Clara County, including Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin, and parts of Santa Cruz County.

Hours later, authorities in San Carlos reported that four cables there had also been cut.

In addition to interruptions in phone, Internet and 911 service, ATMs in Gilroy and Morgan Hill were not working Thursday, said Santa Clara County spokeswoman Joy Alexiou.

Police in both cities are investigating the incidents as vandalism. Police said four of the six lines belong to AT&T Inc. The company announced it is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

AT&T said late Thursday service had returned to most of the area and 911 service had been restored. A spokesman for the company says
that the vandals must have been well prepared to sever the thick, strong cables.

Spokesman John Britton said four of the severed cables were the width of a silver dollar and were covered in tough plastic.

Emergency responders went into immediate action Thursday morning, said Alexiou.

"Our concern is 911. If someone is having an emergency and can't make a phone call, they should go to the nearest firehouse, police station or hospital emergency room," Alexiou said. "We have people at those areas with radios."

Alexiou said the sheriff's department doubled patrols in affected areas since the outage. Also, personnel were going door-to-door conducting welfare checks on vulnerable populations like seniors and the disabled.

Santa Clara County declared a local state of emergency to allow officials to recoup some of the costs of maintaining public safety while the 911 system was down, Alexiou said.

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