Douglas County OR (KMTR) - Century Link, says hundreds were left without phone service Sunday night. Some were unable to call 911 after thieves made off with hundreds of feet of copper phone lines.
The wire theft left parts of Douglas, Curry, and Coos County without phone service. Century Link owns the phone line. They were alerted to the problem at eight o'clock Sunday night after their fiber optic cable began bouncing information back. They say they traced the problem to a portion of the line just outside of Tenmile.
NewsSource 16 has been told that someone climbed a telephone pole and cut the cable, making off with an estimated six hundred feet of copper cable. In the process they damaged a fiber optic line, the only outside connection Tenmile and Camas Valley have to the outside world, including 911.
Officials say the outage is so severe, even a quick fix wasn’t easy. They say they actually spliced the line temporarily on the ground so they could get those circuits up and operating.
Century Link says all the phone lines have been restored. In the meantime, those without access to 911 were urged that, if they had an emergency, to use either their cell phone to call, or go to the nearest fire station. Those stations are manned by volunteers called up in the middle of the night.
"I'm sure there's a little interruption in sleep,” says Fire Board Chairman Paul Yoder, “but when you're a volunteer, when you're called upon to be a volunteer, you go be a volunteer regardless of the circumstances."
He says luckily no one in Camas Valley needed emergency help.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputes say within the last year, three separate phone line jackings have led to widespread outages. Criminals strip the lines down to the copper wire, weigh, and sell the metal at scrap yards. Deputies say it’s a difficult crime to trace.
“We work with the scrap dealers,” says Deputy Dwes Hutson, “and there's been some legislation in recent years to make it harder for these people to be successful at this, it's a difficult crime to investigate and actually catch people at."
Deputies are still looking for information. Century link says the service has been restored.