A fourth electrical substation in Washington state was found vandalized over Christmas after three others were attacked earlier in the day, leaving thousands of people without power, officials said.
After the latest act of vandalism, more than 10,500 Puget Sound Energy customers were without power in the area as of 7 a.m. Monday, KOMO-TV reported.
The suspects broke into a fenced area and vandalized substation equipment, starting a fire, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. Responders extinguished the fire and power was later restored, but no suspects are in custody, officials said.
Earlier on Christmas Day, thousands of residents woke up without power after three more substations were vandalized in the early hours of the morning.
The first substation was vandalized around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, followed by a second substation, according to Tacoma Public Utilities. About 7,300 customers in an area southeast of Tacoma have been affected.
Just before noon, power had been restored to all but 2,700 customers. Their power was restored around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, officials said.
Meanwhile, just before noon, Puget Sound Energy reported that a vandalism that occurred around 2:30 a.m. Sunday caused a power outage at one of its substations.
About 7,700 customers lost power but had it restored by 5 a.m., Puget Sound spokesman Andrew Padula said. The company is investigating, along with authorities, and declined to comment further, according to Padula.
In all four cases, the sheriff’s office said someone broke into the fenced area surrounding the substations and damaged equipment to cause a power outage.
It is currently unclear if all four instances are connected.
Several power plants have been attacked in Washington and Oregon over the past month.
Portland General Electric, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Cowlitz County Public Utility District and Puget Sound Energy have confirmed six separate attacks on substations in Washington and Oregon in previous weeks, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting and KUOW-FM in Seattle. .
The attacks come as federal officials warn that the US power grid needs better security to prevent domestic terrorism and after two substations operated by Duke Energy were destroyed by gunfire in North Carolina in the beginning of the month, leaving 40,000 people without electricity.
With post wires