Vandals damage phone cable in Fairbanks twice

Fiber-optic line sliced twice, probably with a sophisticated cutting instrument

Posted: Monday, June 10, 2002

FAIRBANKS - Vandals have twice cut a fiber optic cable that provides long distance telephone service to some Fairbanksans, costing the company that maintains the cable more than $100,000, Alaska State Troopers said.

Troopers and the FBI are investigating the vandalism of the cable maintained by Alaska Fiber Star. Trooper Andrew Adams said there are no suspects.

The line, which runs parallel to the Alaska Railroad, was severed where the railroad track travels through west Fairbanks. The three-quarter-inch line is attached to the railroad track and encased in metal.

Whoever severed the line had to unscrew the top of the metal covering to reach the cable, which is covered by two layers of rubber. The cuts have been clean, demonstrating that the perpetrator is probably using a sophisticated cutting device, said a railroad employee who was at the scene Saturday.

The first cut happened Thursday night. An employee of Alaska Fiber Star discovered it after noticing service had abruptly stopped.

The company spliced the cable only to discover it was cut again sometime Friday night, Adams said. This time, the splice reportedly was removed and laid on the railroad track where it was destroyed by a passing train.

Adams said troopers plan to step up patrols in the area.

"We'll try and catch them in the act or in the woods with tools or something," he said.

It's unknown how many customers, if any, were without long-distance phone service because of the incident.

An employee at the Anchorage office of Alaska Fiber Star declined comment, referring inquiries to the company's president in Portland, Ore., who could not be reached.

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