FBI investigating chainsaw vandalism to utility poles in Lynnwood

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — Lynnwood police and the FBI are investigating chainsaw vandalism to at least five utility poles supporting high voltage power lines along the Interurban Trail.

One of the damaged poles, owned by Snohomish County PUD, fell to the ground in a densely populated Lynnwood neighborhood early Thursday morning, knocking out power to 4,000 homes and a cell phone tower.

Investigators say the chainsaw vandal also sliced deep gashes through four power poles in a row, in an apparent attempt to cut them all down along the trail near the I-5/I-405 interchange.

Investigators say the only thing holding the wires up, was the tension of the power lines overhead.

"I run this trail every day on this trail," said Kallie Bylsma. She said she could have unknowingly stepped into deadly electrical shock if any of the poles fallen.

"The electrical current could have killed me," she said. "There's families that walk along this trail or bike along this trail that could be seriously injured or killed."

"This is a significant safety concern for us," said Cayle Thompson, spokesman for Snohomish County PUD. "This was a new one for us, and that's part of why it's so concerning."

Thompson said the FBI is looking into this crime for interfering with the power grid. Since nothing is being stolen, it's leaving investigators guessing about a motive. Now, PUD security is checking if other poles may have been cut.

"We are increasing our patrols in places like this, because of this, but we really need the vigilance of our customers to help us identify where there might be a problem that we haven't seen yet," Thompson said.

People who use the trail are astonished someone running with a chainsaw wasn't noticed.

“There’s not much action on the sides of this trail any way you go,” Bylsma said. “So anybody with a chainsaw. You’d be a little nervous as to what they have going on.”