Police are investigating four severed fiber optic cables in San Jose that left tens of thousands of area residents without phone service this morning and prompted the mobilization of Santa Clara County emergency communication systems.Additionally, San Carlos police have reported another case of severed fiber optic lines, although no phone disruptions have been reported in connection with that incident.San Carlos police Cmdr. Richard Cinfio said he and other officers responded to alarms around 3 a.m. and found two severed fiber optic cables at an underground site at Old County Road and Bing Street.No phones appear to be affected, Cinfio said, but the damage is extensive.”The suspect or suspects would have needed to go down a few manhole covers in order to damage these cables,” he said.San Carlos police are asking anyone with information regarding this case to call a specially activated phone line at (650) 802-4423. In San Jose, AT&T repair crews are at work, Santa Clara County emergency communication systems are mobilized and San Jose police are investigating the severed fiber optic cables. “It’s pretty clear someone cut the four fiber optic cables,” AT&T spokesman John Britton said as he watched crews make repairs. Usually such cuts happen by accident during construction, utility repair or other projects that require digging, he said. Britton said no such projects are scheduled in the area.AT&T hopes to have phone and Internet restored by 6 p.m. Each of the four cables contains dozens of smaller lines, Britton said, so service will be restored to different areas throughout the day.The cut lines triggered AT&T alarms around 2:30 a.m. Britton said. The outage has affected the towns of Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin, he said. AT&T, police and county officials have reports of additional outages in San Jose’s Coyote neighborhood, parts of Santa Cruz County as far south as Aptos, and pockets of San Benito County. Police are now officially treating the cut cables as a vandalism case, and consider the repair site in south San Jose a crime scene, San Jose Police Sgt. Ronnie Lopez said this morning. Vandalism can be a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the amount of damage. Further charges relating to disrupting phone lines could be possible depending on how the case proceeds, Lopez said. A suspect and motive were not immediately available.A fleet of police and repair vehicles have spent the morning at the site on Monterey Highway just north of Blossom Hill Road. Around 11 a.m., workers erected a small tent over the manhole to continue repairs.Lopez said cutting the cables required removing a heavy manhole cover, perhaps with a tool, and climbing more than eight feet underground. He declined to give specifics, for fear of triggering copycat acts. The nearby IBM corporate offices were also affected, Lopez said, and managers sent some employees home.In addition to AT&T customers, the outage is affecting 52,200 Verizon land line customers, according to Santa Clara County’s emergency response team. Some areas are able to make local calls, but cannot access 911. The county had no information on cell phone outages.Because many residents cannot call 911 in case of an emergency, Santa Clara County has activated its emergency operations center, Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman Don Morrissey said.County officials are urging anyone with an emergency to report to the nearest police or fire station, or hospital. The county has sent two teams to assist with emergency operations in affected areas, Morrissey said. The county also has additional ambulances ready at St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy.At 12:30 p.m., Morrissey said he was not aware of any emergency situations occurring in the affected areas.In San Jose, police officers are saturating the outage area to assist anyone with an emergency, Lopez said. Officers are also using their own cell phones to pinpoint dead zones in the city.Residents who can only make local calls should contact their local police dispatch during an emergency, using a seven-digit phone number. Those numbers are as follows: Gilroy, (408) 846-0350; Morgan Hill, (408) 779-2101; unincorporated Santa Clara County, (408) 299-2311; and San Jose, (408) 277-8900. Please call the Fugitive Watch hot line at 1-800-9-CAUGHT (1-800-922-8448) or text at 408-355-0999 if you have any information regarding the responsible persons.
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