A massive power outage affecting nearly 40,000 customers in Moore County, North Carolina, is being investigated as a “criminal incident” after crews spotted signs of potential damage at multiple locations, authorities said.
Several communities across the county began experiencing power outages just after 7 p.m. Saturday, the Moore County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
“As the utility company began responding to various substations, evidence was discovered that indicated vandalism occurred at multiple locations,” the sheriff’s office said.
About 38,664 customers were without power across the county Saturday night, according to the Duke Energy Outage Map.
Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks told CNN affiliate WRAL that the crew was experiencing “multiple equipment failures” affecting the Moore County substation.
“We are also investigating signs of potential damage related to the outage,” Brooks added.
Moore County sheriff’s deputies and officials from other law enforcement agencies responded to various locations to provide security, according to the sheriff’s office.
Moore County is located in central North Carolina, approximately 50 miles northwest of Fayetteville.