A state of emergency has been declared in a North Carolina county after shots were fired at two electrical substations, leaving thousands of homes in the dark, officials said.
No one knows who launched the attack on the equipment Saturday — which left more than 40,000 people in the dark — but the incident in Moore County is being investigated as intentional and criminal, officials said.
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said at a press conference that “no group has stepped forward to admit or admit to this,” adding that the FBI is working with state investigators to determine who was responsible.
Fields said someone “opened fire at the substation, and the same with the other one,” but the motive for the crime has yet to be determined.
The lights started going out around 7pm on Saturday.
He called the attack “targeted” and said law enforcement would secure substations and businesses overnight.
“We faced something yesterday that we’ve never faced in Moore County,” Fields said. “But I promise you, we’ll get through this.”
He said there were rumors online that the attack was linked to protests against a drag show scheduled to start at a local theater at 7 p.m., but investigators had found no evidence the two were connected.
Officers visited the home of a woman who has been an outspoken critic of drag shows after she posted on Facebook, “Moore County has a power outage and I know why.” The News & Observer reports about it.
Fields said investigators reviewed the online post, but it was “nothing” at the press conference.
About 37,000 customers in the county were still without power Sunday night, according to Poweroutage.us.
The outage extended to Moore Regional Hospital, where a backup generator was operational without affecting service and patient care.
Traffic lights were also out and caused several crashes, including four at one intersection, South Pine Fire Chief Mike Cameron told a local news outlet.
In that clash, four people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
“The car accident happened entirely because the traffic lights were out,” Cameron said.
Officials are installing temporary stop signs at intersections with erratic traffic lights to help with traffic, he added.
The power outage forced the area to impose a curfew from 9pm on Sunday to 5am on Monday.
“This type of attack on critical infrastructure is a serious, intentional crime, and I expect state and federal authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and bring those responsible to justice,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. Posted on Twitter.
A local sports complex will serve as a shelter in place Sunday night as Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said customers could be without power for several days.
Workers will need to replace several damaged pieces of equipment, he said.
“We are looking at a very complex repair with very large equipment, and so we want residents of the city to be prepared for this to be a multi-day restoration for many customers, which will last until Thursday,” he said. Brooks in press. conference.