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Thousands are without power after three substations were attacked in Washington state, the sheriff said

Thousands are without power after three substations were attacked in Washington state, the sheriff said

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Dec 25 (Reuters) – Thousands of residents were without power near Tacoma, Washington, after three electrical substations were vandalized, local authorities said on Sunday, adding that it was not yet clear whether the incidents on Christmas Day were linked.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said robberies were reported at two substations belonging to Tacoma Public Utilities and another belonging to Puget Sound Energy. Deputies cited forced entry into the fenced area, with vandalized equipment, but nothing was taken from the sites, the release said. Over 14,000 customers are affected.

“Deputies are currently conducting the initial investigation. We have no suspects in custody. It is unknown if there is a motive or if this is a coordinated attack on power systems,” the department said in a statement on its website.

Earlier this month, utility in North Carolina reported outages from what local authorities said were staged shootings that are now being investigated by federal law enforcement.

The FBI is also investigating shots fired near a power plant in South Carolina days later and whether the two incidents could be connected, NBC News and other local media reported.

Utilities across the country have been strained by the bitterly cold weather system that swept across the country this week, leaving more than 300,000 excl energy from the winter storm.

In East Piece County, about 2,700 people served by Tacoma Public Utilities were affected at noon Sunday after 7,300 residents initially lost power in the area, about 45 miles (72 km) south of Seattle, Tacoma Public Utilities said in a release Twitter.

“We are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore power,” he said, noting that his substations “were attacked” earlier Sunday morning and that the incidents had been reported to police.

Representatives for Puget Sound Energy could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Leslie Adler

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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