Verizon blames vandalism for outage

As many as 300 Verizon customers in West Baltimore lost service Thursday after cables were cut, the company said.

The outage to telephone and DSL service affected state government offices, small businesses and residents, Verizon spokeswoman Sandra Arnette said. Service was expected to be restored by midday Friday, she said.

Arnette said the damage to equipment in an alley off West North Avenue near Pennsylvania Avenue was the first act of vandalism reported in Baltimore since Sunday, Aug. 7, when members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers began a strike after their contract expired, she said.

Since then, Arnette said, Verizon has recorded 210 acts of sabotage throughout its service territory, which extends from Virginia to Massachusetts. That includes 35 incidents reported in Maryland and Washington, which she said usually experiences five or six in an average year.

A spokesman for the Communication Workers of America said the union does not encourage or condone any illegal activity.

"This is just distraction from the issue at hand," spokesman Chuck Porcari said.

Arnette said the cables appeared to have been cut by an axe late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Because of the way they were cut, she said, they cannot be repaired. Instead, she said, workers must remove and replace 200 feet of wire.

Verizon has reported the incident to Baltimore Police, Arnette said.