Attacks on three utility stations in Washington state Sunday shut down power to 14,000 customers, officials reported.
Nothing was stolen, but equipment was vandalized, causing the power outages. No suspects were in custody as of Sunday evening.
“It is unknown if there are any motives — or if this was a coordinated attack on the power systems,” the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism alert last month warning that critical infrastructure in the nation could be targeted in possible attacks by “lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances.”
A major blackout was triggered early this month when attackers shot up two electrical substations in North Carolina, causing local officials to declare a state of emergency. A $75,000 reward was offered for information leading to their arrest and conviction, and the FBI has joined the investigation.
The first attack in Washington occurred Sunday before dawn at a Puget Sound Energy station. Two Tacoma Public Utilities substations were attacked later in the morning, officials said.
Power had been restored Sunday night to nearly half of the 2,000 Tacoma customers who lost power.
“Unfortunately, the impacts to our system from today’s deliberate damage are more severe in some places than initial testing indicated,” Tacoma Public Utilities said in a statement. “Some customers will be restored closer to 8 AM tomorrow. We appreciate your patience as we respond to this intentional vandalism to our system.”
“We know this incident has impacted many people’s holiday celebrations, and our crews are working hard to get power safely restored to all customers as quickly as we can,” the statement added.