Officials said the hunt for vandals targeted four substations in Pierce County, Washington, on Christmas Day, set fire to at least one facility, and prevented more than 14,000 utility customers from receiving power. Continued on Monday.
According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, which includes Tacoma, two of the break-ins occurred at the Tacoma Utilities substation and the other two at the Puget Sound energy station.
No arrests have been announced.
The vandalism occurred in a series of similar sabotage incidents across the country, including some in the Northwest, where critical infrastructure was “single-criminalized” by various ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances. A small group of motivated people.”
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement, “It’s unclear whether there was a motive or if it was a coordinated attack on the power system.
Officials said the attack on the substation occurred between 2:39 a.m. and 7:21 p.m. local time. In all four of his episodes, the saboteur broke into a fenced power plant and deliberately damaged equipment, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities initially said three power plants had been destroyed, but early Monday morning a deliberately ignited fire near the city of Graham damaged a fourth substation, cutting power to Kapousin and Graham homes. announced that it had been shut down.
“The suspect entered the fenced area, destroyed equipment and started a fire,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “All law enforcement agencies in the county have been notified of the incident and are monitoring substations in the area.”
By Monday morning, most customers affected by the attack had power, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Tacoma Public Utilities reported that approximately 7,300 customers in southeastern Tacoma were affected by the vandalism. Puget Sound Energy said nearly 7,700 customers had lost power.
“Unfortunately, the impact on systems from intentional damage today is more serious in some places than initial testing indicated,” the company said on Sunday. “Some customers are expected to be back on track tomorrow around 8am. Please be patient as we react to this deliberate sabotage of our systems.”
“We know this incident has affected many people’s holiday celebrations and our crew is working as quickly as possible to restore power safely to all customers. We are working on it,” he added.
Earlier this month, two substations in North Carolina caught fire, cutting power to tens of thousands of customers and prompting local authorities to declare a state of emergency. No one was arrested in the attack.