A massive blackout affecting nearly 40,000 customers in North Carolina’s Moore County is being investigated as a “criminal event” after crews found signs of possible vandalism in several locations, authorities said.
Several communities across the county experienced power outages just after 7 p.m. Saturday, the Moore County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
“As utilities began responding to the various substations, evidence was discovered indicating that deliberate vandalism had occurred at multiple locations,” the sheriff’s office said.
About 38,664 customers were without power nationwide Saturday night, according to Duke Energy’s outage map.
Crews experienced “multiple equipment failures” affecting substations in Moore County, Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks told CNN affiliate WRAL.
“We are also investigating signs of possible vandalism related to the outages,” Brooks added.
Moore County sheriff’s deputies and agents from other law enforcement agencies responded to the various locations to provide security, the sheriff’s office said.
Moore County is located in central North Carolina, about 50 miles northwest of Fayetteville.