MD - Mice cause Galesville phone woes : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

MD - Mice cause Galesville phone woes Rodents, not humans, broke fiber-optic line

By Johnathon E. Briggs Sun Staff Originally published Dec 20 2000 Galesville residents spent more than 12 hours yesterday without telephone service, and the South County area was abuzz with word that sharpshooting vandals had taken out the lines.

But the real culprits turned out to be mice.

Verizon Communications officials blamed the four-legged varmints for a break in a fiber-optic line that occurred late Monday along Muddy Creek Road in Galesville.

Officials said mice apparently nibbled halfway through an underground line, leaving about 9,100 households telephonically cut off from the outside world and without access to the 911 emergency number.

"They ate through the plastic casing that contained the lines and got to the wires," said Sandra Arnette, a Verizon spokeswoman, of the mice.

Technicians were dispatched to repair the damaged cable about 3 a.m. Tuesday, shortly after an alarm alerted Verizon to the problem. It took 15 workers more than nine hours to reconnect the dozen chewed-up wires - cutting out each damaged section, inserting a new piece and reconnecting the wires that officials said are as thin as a strand of human hair.

"It was a pretty tedious task," Arnette said.

Galesville residents at first could call each other, but were without a dial tone once the technicians began working on the lines, she said.

Verizon officials said Galesville was the only community affected.

County police beefed up patrols, and fire officials dispatched one extra firefighter each to the Deale, Galesville, Avalon Shores and Harwood/Lothian stations as a standby measure, said fire officials.

Phone service was restored to the area about 12:30 p.m., Verizon said.

It is unclear how the gun theory got started. Fire Department and county officials said they received initial reports that someone had deliberately sabotaged the telephone line, possibly with a gun.

They were surprised to hear that nibbling rodents were to blame.

Verizon officials said they had not heard that guns were suspected, but said vandalism or construction mishaps are often to blame for damaged phone lines.

-- Doris (, December 21, 2000

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