PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. – Officials restored power to thousands of people in Pierce County on Monday afternoon after authorities said four utility substations were vandalized early Sunday, plunging more than 14,000 residents into darkness, KIRO-TV reported.
Update 10:50 a.m. EST Dec. 27: Officials with Tacoma Public Utilities confirmed Monday that utilities were back online following “intentional damage” to four substations.
“All our customers are back online after the intentional damage to our system yesterday,” utility officials said in a statement posted on social media.
— Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Original report: Deputies said that hours after three utility substations were vandalized Sunday morning, a fourth was targeted and set on fire.
Investigators were called to the scene of a fire at the Puget Sound Energy substation just before 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. First responders put out the fire, which was blamed for knocking out power to homes in Kapowsin and Graham. Deputies said the fire was caused when “suspect(s) gained access to the fenced area and vandalized the equipment.”
The incident was the fourth on Sunday where utility substations were vandalized, leaving customers in the dark. More than 14,000 customers were estimated to be impacted, according to KIRO.
“I woke up and the power was out,” Thomas Morisada, a resident, told KIRO.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release that officers received calls early Sunday morning about burglaries at two Tacoma Public Utilities substations as well as one at a Puget Sound Energy facility.
“When the deputies got there, there was nobody on scene, but they saw that the fence area had been broken into. In this one, the suspects one of the locks on the fenced area, made their way inside, and caused damage to the substation,” Sgt. Darren Moss Jr., a spokesperson for the sheriff’s department, told KIRO. Deputies said that they are investigating the incidents as related.
“If I had to talk to those people, I’d just say, ‘C’mon, it’s Christmas. Why you gonna do that to people?” Morisada asked KIRO.
Moss told KIRO deputies will be monitoring all substations.