911 services cut after line vandalized

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE - Vandalism of a West Slope phone line caused the collapse of ATM machines, credit card services and 911 dispatch service over the weekend, officials said.

El Dorado County Sheriff's Deputy Todd Crawford, who works with the Office of Emergency Services, said someone fired a gun at a phone line in the Pollock Pines area Saturday, causing the phone outage around 5 p.m. Service was restored at 3 a.m. Sunday.

The outage, which ran east of Pollock Pines to the Lake Tahoe Basin through Placer County and even to Truckee, spurred the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department to institute their emergency plan created because of Y2K worries.

Ham radio operators, some from the Tahoe Amateur Radio Association, and other personnel were placed at fire stations and the California Highway Patrol building in Meyers, Crawford said.

The outage knocked out 911 dispatch service in the area. South Lake Tahoe police Dispatcher Kory Rodriguez said lines to the Department of Motor Vehicles were down so people's vehicle histories couldn't be checked until the next day.

No major emergencies were reported.

In Kyburz, residents could only call within the community, said Vanessa Smith, a SBC spokeswoman. Crawford said personnel, such as members of the search-and-rescue team, were staged at Kyburz, Strawberry and other places.

Smith couldn't provide an exact number of people affected.

The damaged phone line was in a remote area near Pollock Pines where repair workers had no cell phone reception, Smith said.

"This is definitely an act of vandalism," Smith said. "It's really disappointing since it takes a lot of manpower to get customers back up and it isolated an entire community. No one wants that."

There are no suspects yet.

Businesses, such as the seafood restaurant Fresh Ketch, coped by going back to the old days of manually running credit cards through a machine, said manager Brian Luchini, who called the old-fashioned devices "knuckle busters."


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