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Fourth electrical substation vandalized in Washington State

A fourth Washington state electrical substation was found vandalized on Christmas after three others were attacked earlier in the day, leaving thousands without power, officials said.

After the latest act of vandalism, more than 10,500 Puget Sound Energy customers were without electricity across the region by 7 a.m. Monday, KOMO-TV reported. 

The suspects broke into a fenced area and vandalized equipment at the substation, causing a fire, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. Responders put out the fire and power was later restored, however no suspects are in custody, officials said.

Earlier Christmas Day, thousands of residents woke up with no power after three other substations were vandalized in the early morning hours.

The first substation was vandalized at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday followed by a second substation, according to Tacoma Public Utilities. About 7,300 customers in an area southeast of Tacoma were affected.

A Tacoma Power crew works at an electrical substation damaged by vandals
Over 10,000 Puget Sound Energy customers were without power on Monday morning following the latest vandalism incident.

Just before noon, power had been restored to all but 2,700 customers. Their power was restored around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, officials said.

Meanwhile, just before noon, Puget Sound Energy reported vandalism that had happened at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday caused a power outage at one of its substations. 

Roughly 7,700 customers lost power, but had it restored by 5 a.m., Puget Sound spokesperson Andrew Padula said. The company is investigating, along with authorities, and declined to comment further, according to Padula.

A Tacoma Power crew placed this new padlock at a substation gate
A Tacoma Power crew installed a new lock at the substation gate.

In all four cases, the sheriff’s office says someone forced their way into the fenced area surrounding the substations and damaged equipment to cause a power outage.

It’s not clear at this time if all four instances are connected.

Several power stations have been attacked  in Washington and Oregon in the last month.

A Tacoma Power crew works at an electrical substation damaged by vandals early on Christmas morning,
A Tacoma Power crew works at an electrical substation damaged by vandals early on Christmas morning.

Portland General Electric, the Bonneville Power Administration, Cowlitz County Public Utility District and Puget Sound Energy confirmed six separate attacks on substations in Washington and Oregon in the previous weeks, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting and KUOW-FM in Seattle.

The attacks come as federal officials are warning that the U.S. power grid needs better security to prevent domestic terrorism and after two substations operated by Duke Energy were taken out by gunfire in North Carolina earlier this month leaving 40,000 people without electricity.

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