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Someone shot at substations in North Carolina, knocking out power for thousands

Updated December 4, 2022 at 5:52 PM ET

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. The outage, which the authorities believe 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 also under curfew between 9 p.m. on Sunday and 5 a.m. Monday. The county-wide curfew could remain in place for the next few days, according to the sheriff. 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.

Nearly 40,000 customers in the county are still without power as of Sunday evening, according to poweroutage.us.

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."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.