An extensive power outage affecting about 40,000 customers in North Carolina’s Moore County is being investigated as a “criminal occurrence” after crews found signs of potential vandalism at several locations, authorities said.
Several communities across the county began experiencing power outages just after 7 p.m. Saturday, the Moore County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
“As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites,” the sheriff’s office said.
Gov. Roy Cooper on Sunday tweeted that state law enforcement would join the investigation.
“I have spoken with Duke Energy and state law enforcement officials about the power outages in Moore County. They are investigating and working to return electricity to those impacted,” Cooper said. “The state is providing support as needed.”
More than 38,000 customers were without power across the county Sunday morning, according to the Duke Energy outage map. According to poweroutage.us, about 41,000 customers had lost power in Moore County and neighboring Hoke County.
Crews were experiencing “multiple equipment failures” that are affecting substations in Moore County, Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks told CNN affiliate WRAL.
“We are also investigating signs of potential vandalism related to the outages,” Brooks said.
Deputies and officers from other law enforcement agencies responded to the different sites to provide security, according to the sheriff’s office.
Moore County is in central North Carolina, about 50 miles northwest of Fayetteville.