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Moore County power outage investigated as vandalism


This photos shows the gate to the Duke Energy West End substation in Moore County, N.C. on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. Tens of thousands were without power in the county after what authorities say was an act of criminal vandalism at multiple substations. The Pilot newspaper in Southern Pines reported that infrastructure at the West End substation was damaged. (John Nagy/The Pilot via AP)

Multiple power substations in a North Carolina county were damaged by gunfire in an apparent act of criminal vandalism, leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity, authorities said.

The power outage across Moore County that began just after 7 p.m. Saturday is being investigated as a criminal act, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said in a Facebook post. More than 40,000 electric customers in the county remained without power on Sunday afternoon, according to poweroutage.us.

“As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites,” the sheriff said.

Southern Pines Fire Chief Mike Cameron said that two substations in the county were damaged by gunfire on Saturday and that a possible motive wasn’t clear. Cameron, also the assistant town manager, said that the information about the cause was given to him by Duke Energy. A Duke Energy spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an email asking about the gunfire.