(RightIsRight.co) – UPDATE: A fourth substation has been attacked.
Tens of thousands of people were left without power in the area of Tacoma, Washington state, on Christmas Day after unknown persons vandalized three local electricity substations.
It remains unclear whether Sunday’s three substation attacks were connected, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, cited by Reuters.
Earlier this month, in a similar case, an attack on a power station in Moore County, North Carolina, also left tens of thousands without electricity, leading investigators to say domestic terrorism may be involved.
Two of the targeted substations in the Tacoma area belong to Tacoma Public Utilities. Puget Sound Energy operates the third one.
All three facilities suffered break-ins, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said, adding there was forced entry into the substations’ fence-in sites. The intruders vandalized the equipment but didn’t steal anything.
As a result of the vandalism, 14,000 household and business clients of the two utilities experienced power outages on Christmas Day.
“At this time, deputies are conducting the initial investigation. We do not have any suspects in custody. It is unknown if there are any motives or if this was a coordinated attack on the power systems,” the Sheriff’s Department announced in a statement.
Tacoma Public Utilities said in a Twitter post that the initial power outage caused by the vandalism left about 7,300 residents without power in east Pierce County, located approximately 45 miles south of Seattle.
Towards midday on Sunday, most had had their power restored, with 2,700 locals remaining in an electricity outage.
“We are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore power,” Tacoma Public Utilities stated.
It pointed out that its substations “were attacked” on Sunday morning, with the incidents reported to the police.
The Puget Sound Energy utility had not released any public comments as of midday on Christmas Day.
Unlike the case in Moore County, North Carolina, which saw “orchestrated shootings” at the power equipment, no such traces have been reported in Washington state’s Pierce County.
In another similar case, in South Carolina, shots were fired near an electricity facility, which didn’t cause a power outage.
The two incidents in the Carolinas are being investigated by federal law enforcement and may be connected.
The vandalism attacks on the three substations in Washington state came as a fierce winter storm and cold weather throughout the United States strained local power utilities, causing 300,000 Americans to remain without power.