Vandalism at 4 Pierce County Substations
TACOMA, Wash. -- The Pierce County Sheriff's Department (PCSD) is investigating after at least four electrical substations were vandalized in the county on Christmas Day, knocking out power to thousands.
According to the PCSD, a call was received at 5:26 a.m. reporting a burglary at the Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) Substation at 22312 46th Avenue East.
Deputies arrived and noticed a forced entry into the fenced area. The PCSD said nothing appeared to have been taken from the substation, but equipment has been vandalized causing an outage.
TPU reported more than 650 customers were without power as of 6:30 a.m. Monday. Power is expected to be restored by 7 a.m., according to the TPU website. TPU said 7,300 customers were without power early Christmas morning.
Deputies said no suspects are in custody, and the motive is unknown.
The PCSD said deputies also responded to a report of a burglary at a second TPU substation located at 8820 224th Street East. The sheriff's department said equipment at the substation was also damaged, but nothing was taken. There were no signs of forces entry at the second location, the PCSD said.
The PCSD said deputies were notified around 11:25 a.m. that Puget Sound Energy (PSE) also had a power outage just before 2:40 a.m. Christmas morning. PSE reported the substation, located on the 10900 block of 144th Street East, was vandalized.
Investigators said the fenced area at the substation was broken into and equipment inside was also burglarized.
A fourth substation was damaged and caught fire later Sunday night. The PCSD said 911 dispatchers received a report of a fire just after 7:20 p.m. at the PSE substation located on the 14300 block of Kapowsin Highway East in Graham.
PCSD deputies, firefighters and PSE employees responded to the scene. The fire at the substation was put out and the area was secured.
The PCSD said the "suspect(s) gained access to the fenced area and vandalized the equipment," which caused the fire.
As of 7 a.m. Monday, more than 10,500 PSE customers were without electricity across the region.
More than 500 customers were without power in Graham Monday morning. The cause of the outages near Graham is vandalism, according to the PSE outage website. Restoration is estimated around 11:30 p.m., according to the PSE Outage Map.
The PCSD said all law enforcement agencies in the county were notified of the incidents and "will be monitoring power substations in their area."
In January, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security report warned that domestic extremists have been developing "credible, specific plans" to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020.
Officials are asking anyone who sees someone or something suspicious near a power facility to call 911.
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