Four electrical substations in the Tacoma, Washington area were hit Sunday, affecting thousands of customers, officials said.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department described the early morning attacks on two Tacoma utility substations and a Puget Sound energy facility as acts of vandalism, and the perpetrators have not been identified.
“It is unknown if there was any motive or if this was a coordinated attack on power systems,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
The agency estimated that 14,000 homes and businesses were affected when three substations were hit on Sunday.
The Sheriff’s Department described a fourth incident Sunday at 7:21 p.m. at another Puget Sound Energy substation.
“The suspect(s) gained access to the fenced area and tampered with the equipment causing the fire,” the sheriff’s office said. Report. “There are currently no suspects in custody.”
A fourth incident on Christmas Day at a utility substation in south Pierce County prompted heightened security.
“All law enforcement agencies in the district have been informed about the incidents and will monitor the power substations in their area,” the statement said.
Power has been restored to most of the affected homes, the sheriff’s department said.
Puget Sound Energy confirmed in a statement Monday that two of its substations had been hit.
“We are coordinating with authorities regarding suspected acts of vandalism at two of our substations. Both incidents are under investigation and no further details are available. PSE has extensive measures in place to monitor, protect and mitigate risk to our equipment and infrastructure,” the statement said. said.
Puget Sound Energy said on its website Sunday that more than 1,200 customers were without power — the majority had been reconnected — but it was unclear if that was related to the attack.
Tacoma Public Utilities said more than 7,000 customers in the Graham and Elk Plain communities were without power Sunday and were still working on repairs.
Power appears to have been restored for many of those TPU customers – National Outage Tracker PowerOutage.us Fewer than 5,000 customers were in the dark across the state on Sunday afternoon.
In a statement, the TPU said, “Two of our substations were deliberately targeted by physical attacks.”
The Sheriff’s Department said a person or people broke into the facilities and damaged equipment in each of those attacks, with the first reported at 2:39 a.m.
The TPU said it alerted federal law enforcement this month to the possibility of attacks and recommended a security assessment. It did not say what action it took.
At the same time, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Seattle’s KUOW Public Radio Portland General Electric reported separate attacks in mid-November on six substations operated by Bonneville Power Administration, Cowlitz County Public Utility District and Puget Sound Energy in Washington and Oregon. Trespassing on utility property has been alleged in these incidents, the outlets said.
Dec. On the 3rd Looters attack two Duke Energy substations In Moore County, North Carolina, 45,000 customers were left in the dark for more than three days, officials said. The gunmen opened fire, in one case, when they said they had breached a facility, and they were still pending almost a month later.
As power was restored to North Carolina customers on December 7, a man opened fire near the Duke Energy hydro facility in Ridgeway, South Carolina, about 130 miles south of Moore County. There were federal investigators Comparing ballistics evidence To determine if they are linked in both attacks.
Two senior law enforcement officials briefed on the matter as investigators probing the North Carolina attacks look into online conspiracy theories to determine whether they played a role. said this month.
A Theory in Practice The outage was aimed at stopping the drag show “Downtown Divas” at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Anti-LGBTQ protesters targeted the venue in the days leading up to Saturday night’s event, which continued into darkness before ending earlier.
Power infrastructure has long been on the attack wish list of white supremacists and other right-wing extremists seeking American “destabilization,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. said in February.
Earlier this year, three men pleaded guilty in connection with the case Conspiracy to disrupt electricityThat would sow civil unrest and economic uncertainty and eventually spark a race war, federal prosecutors said at the time.
There is no indication that the attacks in Washington, Oregon, and the Carolinas shared similar motives. Sunday’s Tacoma-area attacks remain under investigation.
Eric Mendoza Contributed.