The FBI is involved in the investigation into the North Carolina power outages, which are believed to have been caused by “intentional” and “targeted” attacks on substations that left about 40,000 customers in the dark Saturday night, with no suspect or motive announced. Curfew and declaration of emergency.
The massive outage in Moore County turned into a criminal investigation when responding utility crews found potential signs of equipment vandalism at various locations — including two substations damaged by gunfire, according to the Moore County Sheriff’s Office.
“The person or persons who did this knew exactly what they were doing,” Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said at a news conference Sunday. “We have no clue why Moore County.”
Fields said several rounds were fired at the two substations. “It was targeted, it wasn’t an accident,” he said.
The sheriff would not say whether the crime was domestic terrorism, but “neither group has come forward to acknowledge or admit that they are.” [did] It.”
Authorities 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 also joined the investigation, officials said.
More than 33,000 customers were still in the dark across the state Sunday evening, the Duke Energy outage map shows. For some, the outage could stretch into Thursday, officials said, upending the lives of tens of thousands.
All schools in the state will be closed on Monday and authorities have opened a generator-powered shelter.
Traffic lights were also out, and a few stores with generators were able to open their doors, while several businesses and churches in Moore County were closed Sunday, CNN affiliate WRAL reported.
“We were just recovering from Covid. Now this,” the sheriff said, “is going to hurt all of our restaurants and businesses.”
It is difficult to escape the cold inside people’s houses.
“We have a six-month-old baby at home. We’re out of heat. We’re trying to get heat for her,” Carthage resident Chris Thompson told WRAL.
Chilly temperatures were expected in the area Sunday night with lows in the 30s, highs in the 50s and rain expected Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Moore County is located in central North Carolina, about 50 miles northwest of Fayetteville.
The estimated cost of substation damage is in the millions, the sheriff said Sunday.
Jeff Brooks, chief communications manager for Duke Energy, said the damage is significant and redirecting power is not an option.
“The equipment will have to be replaced,” Brooks said. “We are pursuing multiple avenues of restoration so that we can restore as many customers as possible as quickly as possible. Recognizing that, we are looking at a very modern renovation with fairly large equipment.
In addition to shots fired at substations, a gate at one location appears to have been removed from its hinges. Southern Pines Fire and Rescue Department Chief Mike Cameron told CNN.
While it’s unclear what motivated the alleged vandalism, the sheriff on Sunday addressed rumors on social media that the attack was an attempt to disrupt a local drag show.
Fields said “investigators have not been able to tie anything back to the drag show,” which was scheduled to take place around the time the power went out in Southern Pines at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The state declared a state of emergency to protect residents and property and maintain public services, officials said. A nationwide curfew is expected to be in effect at night while the emergency declaration is in effect.
“It’s going to be very dark and it’s going to be cold tonight, and we don’t want anybody out on the streets, that’s the reason for our curfew,” North Carolina state senator Tom McInnis said. News conference. “Please stay home tonight…the roads are dangerous.”
The emergency order encourages residents to conserve fuel.
Cameron told CNN that because the streets are dark, the area has seen an increase in emergency calls and reports of vehicle accidents due to traffic lights not working.
He said people dependent on oxygen have also made emergency calls.
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 schools, it’s unclear how long campuses will remain closed. Moore County Superintendent Tim Locklear said decisions on school openings for the rest of the week will be made day by day.