Over 15,000 homes were without power on Christmas Day after vandals damaged four substations in Washington State.
The attacks began at 2:30 a.m. Pacific Time Sunday, according to Puget Sound Energy. Three attacks occurred during the early morning hours, with a fourth incident later reported on Christmas night.
“It is unknown if there are any motives or if this was a coordinated attack on the power systems,” according to a statement from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, KUOW-TV reported.
Sgt. Darren Moss of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department disputed calling the incidents “attacks.”
“There’s nothing that we have found yet that says this is a terrorist attack,” Moss said.
“At this point, we believe their goal was to shut down the power. The reasons for that, we don’t know yet,” he said.
The first attack to cut off power in Puyallup County that occurred at 2:30 a.m. was restored by about 5 a.m. The second incident happened at about 5:12 a.m. and appears to be the same person or group of people.
The report stated that the locks at the two first substations had been cut to gain entry. The fence was cut through in the third incident. The method of access in the fourth incident was not mentioned.
The substations reportedly have chain-link fences and cameras at each location. The investigation is ongoing and no suspects have yet been identified or arrested.
The attack is not the only recent incident on power substations in the area. Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Puget Sound Energy, and the Cowlitz County Public Utility District confirmed their substations were attacked in November, the Seattle Times reported.
BPA spokesman Douglas Johnson said there was a “deliberate physical attack” at a substation in Clackamas, Oregon, over the Thanksgiving holiday as someone ut a fence and damaged equipment in an attack.
“BPA is actively cooperating with the FBI on this incident and has encouraged other utilities throughout the region to increase their vigilance and report any suspicious or similar activity to law enforcement,” Johnson added.
It is uncertain whether the past attacks are related to the latest incidents on Christmas Day.
The Daily Wire previously reported that vandalism was responsible for a substation attack that took down power for over 40,000 people in early December.
Local authorities investigate the incident in Moore County — approximately 70 miles southwest of Raleigh — as a criminal act.
“Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields reports that the mass power outage across the county is being investigated as a criminal occurrence,” the Moore County Sheriff Department’s Facebook post said.
“Just after 7 pm on Saturday evening, December 3, 2022, several different communities across Moore County began experiencing power outages,” it added. “As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites.”
The incidents have also come as the Department of Homeland Security has warned of threats to the nation’s electrical infrastructure in recent years. The Homeland Security “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” issued last month warned that people with personal grievances “continue to pose a persistent and lethal threat to the Homeland.”