With no suspects or motive announced, the FBI joins the investigation Power outages in the state of North Carolina Believed to be caused by “deliberate” and “targeted” attacks on substations, it left around 40,000 customers in the dark on Saturday night, prompting a curfew and emergency declaration.
A major strike in Moore County turned into a criminal investigation after responding utility crews found signs of equipment destruction at different sites — including two substations damaged by gunfire, the Moore County Sheriff’s Office said.
“The person or persons who did this knew exactly what they were doing,” Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said during a Sunday news conference. “We have no clue why Moore County.”
Fields said multiple shots were fired at both substations. “It’s targeted, it’s not random,” he said.
The sheriff did not say whether the criminal activity was domestic terrorism, but said “neither group has come forward to admit or accept that they are. [did] It is.”
Officials announced a mandatory curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday night, a decision Fields said was made to protect residents and businesses.
In addition to the FBI, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has joined the investigation, officials said.
More than 33,000 customers were still in the dark Sunday evening, according to Duke Energy Failure diagram showed. For some, the outage could extend into Thursday, officials said, upending the lives of tens of thousands.
All schools in the district will remain closed on Monday and officials have opened shelters running on generators.
Traffic lights were also out and some stores with generators were able to open their doors, while many businesses and churches in Moore County were closed Sunday. CNN affiliate WRAL reported.
“We just got over the covid. Now this,” the sheriff said, “is going to affect all of our restaurants and businesses.”
Inside people’s homes, it’s hard to keep the cold at bay.
“We have a six-month-old baby at home. We ran out of heat. We’re trying to get her warm,” Carthage resident Chris Thompson told WRAL.
Cooler temperatures are expected with lows in the 30s, highs in the 50s overnight Sunday in the area and possible showers on Monday. National Weather Service. Moore County is in central North Carolina, about 50 miles northwest of Fayetteville.
The estimated cost of substation damage is in the millions, the sheriff said Sunday.
The damage is significant and replacing the power is not an option, said Jeff Brooks, Duke Energy’s principal communications manager.
“Equipment needs to be replaced,” Brooks said. “We’re pursuing multiple paths to restoration so that we can restore as many customers as quickly as possible. Recognizing that, we’re looking at pretty state-of-the-art repairs with some great equipment.
In addition to the gunshot damage to the substations, a gate at one location appears to have been dislodged from its hinges, Assist. Southern Pines Fire and Rescue Department Chief Mike Cameron told CNN.
While it’s unclear what prompted the alleged vandalism, the sheriff on Sunday addressed rumors circulating on social media that the attack was an attempt to stop a local drag show.
At the time of the power outage, which was scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday in Southern Pines, investigators “were unable to connect anything back to the drag show,” Fields said.
The district declared a Emergency To protect residents and property and maintain public services, officials said. A nationwide curfew is expected to remain in effect overnight while the state of emergency remains in effect.
“It’s going to be very dark, it’s going to be cold tonight, and none of us need to be out on the streets, and that’s the reason for our curfew,” North Carolina state senator Tom McGinnis said. News conference. “Please stay home tonight…the roads are dangerous.”
The emergency order encourages residents to conserve fuel.
As the streets are dark, emergency calls have increased in the area and vehicle accidents have been reported due to the traffic lights being on, Cameron told CNN.
People dependent on oxygen have also made emergency calls, he said.
A shelter is open at the Moore County Sports Complex, and trailers with bathrooms and shower facilities are being brought in, Moore County Manager Wayne West said.
As for the schools, it is not clear how long the campuses will remain closed. Moore County Superintendent Tim Locklear said decisions regarding the opening of schools for the rest of the week will be made on a day-to-day basis.