Police investigate shooting of North Carolina electricity station

Two power plants in North Carolina in the United States were struck by gunfire in what is being investigated as a criminal act, causing damage that could take days to repair and leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity, authorities said.

In response to the ongoing power outages, which began just after 7 p.m. Saturday (midnight Sunday GMT) in North Carolina’s Moore County, officials declared a state of emergency with a curfew from 9 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday. Provincial schools were also closed on Monday.

“An attack like this on critical infrastructure is a serious, willful crime, and I expect state and federal authorities to thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice,” Governor Roy Cooper wrote on Twitter.

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said at a Sunday news conference that authorities have not determined a motivation. He said someone stopped and “opened fire on the substation, same with the others”. The sheriff said it appeared gates had been breached at both locations.

The Pilot newspaper in Southern Pines, North Carolina, reported that a wooden post holding up a gate had broken off at one of the substations and was lying in an access road Sunday morning.

“No group has come forward to acknowledge or accept that they’re the ones who did it,” Fields said, adding, “We’re looking at all avenues.”

The sheriff noted that the FBI was working with state investigators to determine who was responsible. He also said, “It was targeted.”

“It wasn’t random,” Fields said.

He noted that law enforcement officers are securing the substations and businesses overnight.

“There will be people around the clock tonight,” Fields said.

About 35,400 electricity customers in the province were without power Monday morning, according to poweroutage.us, several thousand less than at the peak of the outage.

With cold temperatures on Sunday evening, the province also opened a shelter at a sports complex in Carthage.

Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said multiple appliances were damaged and will need to be replaced. He said while the company tries to restore power as quickly as possible, customers should brace themselves for the possibility of power outages that could last for days.

“We’re looking at a pretty sophisticated repair with fairly large equipment, so we want the city residents to be prepared that this will be a multi-day restoration for most customers, possibly through Thursday,” Brooks said. at the press conference.

Tim Locklear, the county school superintendent, announced that classes were canceled on Monday.

“As we move forward, we’ll take it day by day as we make those decisions,” he said.

Moore County, home to about 100,000 people, is located about an hour southwest of Raleigh and is known for the golf resorts in Pinehurst and other communities.

Andrew Wilkins, a conservation advocate who grew up in Moore County, was driving from Washington to his parents’ small ranch in Whispering Pines on Saturday night when he noticed all the street lights were off in the county seat of Carthage. He arrived on a “pitch black street” with little information about the cause or extent of the blackout.

“When the power went out, so did the information flow,” Wilkins told The Associated Press.

He spent the weekend helping his parents hook up a generator to their source of fresh drinking water and prepare them for cold nights with no heating. Local supermarkets, such as Food Lion and Harris Teeter, have been handing out drinks, ice cream and pantry items to those who have lost power, he said.

“Their home, like many rural homes, depends on a source of fresh, clean water and is powered by electricity,” Wilkins said. “So when the power went out, the well stopped working, and when the well stops working, we slowly lose pressure until we lose water altogether. People will really feel the pinch of this as it goes on.

Wilkins described Southern Pines as a “close-knit” and “vibrant” community of military families, farmers, and small business owners who did everything they could to support each other during the blackout. His family’s neighbors, he said, stock refrigerated medicines for a local pharmacy that has lost power.