RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — About 38,000 Duke Energy customers were in the dark Saturday night and Sunday after a power outage from vandalism in Moore County, officials said.

The outage began sometime after 7 p.m. Saturday and impacted a large portion of the county. The Duke Energy website listed a restoration time of 10 p.m. Sunday.

The county has 47,000 Duke Energy customers, so 38,000 outages in the county is a large percentage.

The Duke Energy website listed no cause for the outages. The Moore County Sheriff’s Office said that vandalism at power substations caused the outages.

“As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites,” according to part of a news release from Moore County Chief Deputy Richard Maness.

The outages included 2,000 just south of Carthage, 11,000 in Southern Pines, 11,000 in the Pinehurst area and 5,000 outages in Aberdeen. Some of the power outages stretched out to the Foxfire community.

Image from Duke Energy

The Village of Pinehurst released a short statement about the outage:

“We are aware of the major power outage affecting Moore County. Additional officers have been called in to assist. Please stay off the roads if you can and treat all intersections as four-way stops.”

Jeff Brooks with Duke Energy said there is no estimate for when all power will be restored. He also said there are “failures” at multiple substations in the county. Brooks later said there were signs of vandalism to equipment and it was being investigated.

On Sunday morning, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he has spoken with both Duke Energy and law enforcement concerning the power outages:

Representative Richard Hudson thanked law enforcement for their quick response in a statement Sunday:

“Last night, unknown individuals vandalized at least two substations in Moore County with criminal intent. Motive for this crime remains unknown. Many Moore County residents remain without power. I want to thank Sheriff Ronnie Fields and all local law enforcement as well as the SBI and FBI for their quick action to respond to the incident. I have also been in contact with Duke Energy and know they are working on all options to restore power as quickly as possible.”

Rep. Hudson also shared that “The Southern Pines Police Department at 450 W. Pennsylvania Avenue” is opening its C. Michael Haney Community Room so people may charge their electronic devices.

Here is the full news release from the Moore County Sheriff’s Office:
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields reports that the mass power outage across the county is being investigated as a criminal occurrence.

Just after 7 pm on Saturday evening, December 3, 2022, several different communities across Moore County began experiencing power outages. As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites. Moore County Sheriff’s Deputies and various other law enforcement agencies within the county responded to the different areas and are providing further site security.

Anyone with any information about this act of violence should contact the Moore County Sheriff’s Office at 910-947-2931.

As of 3 p.m., 37,000 residents are still without power.