Police are investigating whether sabotage to an underground fiber optic cable in south San Jose caused a widespread phone service outage in southern Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties this morning that included disruption to 911 emergency phone service, according to law enforcement officials.

John Britton, a spokesman for AT&T, said it appears somebody opened a manhole in South San Jose, climbed down 8 to 10 feet and cut four or five fiber-optic cables.

Britton also said there was a report of underground cables being cut in San Carlos.

The outage is affecting cell phones, land lines and Internet access for Verizon customers in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, San Martin and Santa Cruz County, according to Zachary DeVine, a Santa Clara County spokesman. A county fire dispatcher reported areas of San Benito may also be affected but DeVine had not confirmed that report.

ATM machines may also be affected.

“It’s kind of like an earthquake” said Jack Ahlin, a driver with T. Marx Towing who was standing outside the Gilroy police department.

Service is also affected in South San Jose around Monterey Road and Bailey Avenue.

Santa Cruz Sentinal: Sabotage suspected in widespread phone outage in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties

(via Chris Arkenberg)