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Comcast outage irks local hoop fans

Game off - Police are looking for individuals who caused a televisory disruption by cutting fiber optic lines during playoffs

It's the stuff that college hoops junkies love this time of year.

The Duke University Blue Devils had the West Virginia Mountaineers on the ropes at halftime, 34-29. But in a surprising upset, the West Virginians managed to turn the game around, sending the men from North Carolina packing 73-67.

It was a heck of a game. Problem is, Comcast customers in Forest Grove and Hillsboro couldn't catch it.

That's because at 8 a.m. March 22, some ne'er-do-wells cut a fiber optic line in Hillsboro, shutting down Comcast cable and phone service - from Forest Grove to Salem - until about 3 p.m., as crews hurriedly patched the line.

The outage frosted Red Rowley, a long-suffering Washington State fan waiting for an afternoon Cougars game.

'This is in the middle of March Madness,' the Forest Grove resident said. 'This is a big deal.'

Adding insult to injury, another fiber optic line, located at 23rd Avenue and Hawthorne Street in Forest Grove, was sliced on March 25.

That outage lasted from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., leaving most Forest Grove customers in the lurch. Luckily, no NCAA games were playing.

Comcast officials feel Rowley's pain.

It cost $25,000 to repair the Forest Grove line, and the company is now offering $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those involved.

Forest Grove Police said the motive in the cable tampering isn't clear. Nothing was stolen from the pole or the nearby area.

Theressa Davis, Comcast spokeswoman, couldn't comment on the motive or whether the incidents were connected.

She did say, however, that both cuts appeared similar.

'It's really important for us that our customers have a good experience,' Davis said, 'and this is interrupting that.'

Rowley doesn't have answers either.

'I'd hate to have my cable bill padded to pay for armed guards at every telephone pole,' Rowley said.