half my power gone - sizzle

Woke up yesterday to a freezing (63 degree) house. Thought my year old AC/Heater system had gone out. Thermostat read "Battery Power". Checked the fuse box, nothing tripped, checked the breakers in the disconnect boxes, still good. Everything else seemed to be working, lights still on, computer still running. Hmm. Tried the oven, nothing. Tried the pool pump, nothing. So now I'm thinking it's a 220 problem. Did something burn out in my main fuse box (outside and separate from the service fuse box inside).? So far I've not looked out front... but I as I go out front to the main breaker I see several electric company trucks in front of my neighbors house. So I'm pretty sure the problem isn't mine. They are digging a hole next to his driveway near the property line between our houses. They said their "transformer faulted" due to a problem with the supply lines to our two houses and they are looking for the problem. They have metal sticks they stick in the ground and hook to a galvanometer that picks up readings from an electrical pulser/signal generator hooked to the suspect bad buried cable. It has zeroed in on the spot where they are digging. So this goes on for over an hour while they dig it up. They find this
https://www.dropbox.com/s/trw8kk9c2vjiymh/burned%20buried%20electric%20feed%20cable.jpg?dl=0
The fix it by splicing in a new section and the only insulation is a heavy duty heat shrink the put over it. Then they start throwing the dirt back in the hole.
At this time I'm talking with the guy and mention that maybe that bad feed wire was why I'd recently noticed that my lights on one of the circuits "bloomed" (got really bright) for a second when the clothes dryer was started up. He didn't seem impressed but said "well, we could check your neutral or if you want to later you can call and ask them to send someone out to check it."
I figured they might as well check while they are here so tell them to go ahead and check. So the crew member who does the checks pulled my neutral loose in the main feed box and checked voltages under a trouble lamp load. Ut Oh, they got a 20 volt difference. Now they are wondering if they are going to need to take out the dirt they just threw back in. They run the same check on my neighbors service and I guess it was ok. So they get out their pulser and probes and locate the bad spot on my side of the property line and go thru the same routine again. I had to leave and never saw what they dug up, I assume it was not a burn thru but was a break in the insulation causing leakage.
So now when I start my dryer there's barely any reaction on the lighting circuits, just the tiny little dimming that inevitable when a large draw starts up.
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Where was the sizzle? You having steak for dinner? I expected to read that your furnace, TV, something got sizzled. Oh, well....
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On Thu, 27 Nov 2014 12:36:27 -0800 (PST), trader_4

I assume there was some sizzling underground as it burned thru. Surprisingly, we noticed nothing askew but the lights "blooming".
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