Newsman: A North Carolina county is under a state of emergency following a mass power outage that could leave tens of thousands of people without electricity for days to come. Authorities also have announced a mandatory county-wide curfew. The county-wide curfew could remain in place for the next few days, according to the sheriff.
The Sheriff of Moore County, Ronnie Fields said at a news conference Sunday that starting Sunday night, Municipality and county officials “have formed a plan for the night and the next few nights that we may be out of power. It’s a very serious situation,” Fields said. “So we’ve come to an agreement to best protect our citizens and to protect the businesses of our county, we’re going to implement a curfew tonight.”
Sheriff Fields said multiple rounds were fired at the two substations. “It was targeted, it wasn’t random,” he said.
Moore County where currently around 40,000 customers lost power after two power substations were damaged by gunfire Saturday night.
The authorities believe the outage to be intentionally caused by gunfire, is now being investigated as a criminal act.
“We faced something last night, here in Moore County, that we’ve never faced before,” the county’s sheriff, Ronnie Fields, said at a press conference on Sunday afternoon. “But I promise you, we are going to get through this, and we are going to get through this together.”
The county is under curfew between 9 p.m. on Sunday and 5 a.m. Monday.. The Moore County Parks and Recreation Sports Complex is now operating as a shelter while schools are closed for Monday.
The mass power outage across Moore County, about an hour outside of Raleigh, began shortly after 7 p.m. on Saturday after multiple power substations were damaged by what authorities described in a statement as “intentional vandalism.” The substations will require a “sophisticated repair,” Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks said at the conference, which will require new equipment and could take until Thursday to complete.
North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis said officials are determined to find out who caused the power outage and urged residents to stay home.
“This appears to be an intentional, willful and malicious act,” he said. “And the perpetrator will be brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Tillis also implored residents to observe the curfew.
“It is going to be very, very dark and it’s going to be chilly tonight,” he said. “And we don’t need to have anyone out on the streets.”
A state of emergency went into effect at 4 p.m. Sunday as law enforcement; city and energy officials are investigating the incident and working to restore the two substations, authorities said.
No suspects have been identified in connection with the incident.
“The person, or persons, who did this knew exactly what they were doing,” Sheriff Fields said. “We don’t have a clue why Moore County.”
Fields acknowledged a woman who posted on Facebook Sunday morning indicating she had been questioned by law enforcement in connection with the incident. Fields did not name the woman, but said she posted false information on social media claiming to have information behind the incident.
“We don’t have anything,” Fields said, when asked about a possible motive. “No motivation, no group has stepped up to acknowledge or accept they’re the ones who [did] it.”
More than 37,000 customers were without power across the county Sunday evening, according to the Duke Energy outage map. According to poweroutage.us, about 38,000 customers had lost power in Moore County and neighboring Hoke County.