Four Power Substations Attacked in Washington Weeks After FBI Warning on Power Grid Threats

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Thousands of residents were left without power after four power substations were attacked in Tacoma, Washington, on Christmas Day. The vandalism comes weeks after the FBI issued a warning to law enforcement in the state to be on alert for power grid attacks.

According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), deputies responded to a report of a burglary at a Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) substation at 22312 46th Ave. E, at around 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

The suspect had forced their way through a fenced area before vandalizing equipment that caused a power outage in the area. Officials noted that nothing had been stolen from the facility.

Deputies then received a report of a second burglary at another TPU substation located at 8820 224th Street. The fence had visible signs of forced entry with damage to the equipment, but nothing was stolen, similar to the first incident.

A third incident was reported to deputies at 11:35 a.m. of vandalism that occurred at a Puget Sound Energy (PSE) station at around 2:40 a.m. that same day.

Approximately 14,000 homes were without power due to the three attacks, deputies noted.

Later in the evening, the PCSO said they received a report of a fire at around 7:20 p.m. at a PSE substation at 14320 Kapowsin Hwy.

“The suspect(s) gained access to the fenced area and vandalized the equipment which caused the fire,” officials stated. The fire was extinguished, but homes in Kapowsin and Graham experienced power outages.

No suspects have been arrested or identified from the four attacks.

The PCSO said power was restored to most residents affected by the outages; however, many families were forced to spend Christmas Day in the dark, KING 5 News reported.

The FBI is aware of the attacks and has neither confirmed nor denied if it is investigating, CNN reported. “We do take threats against our infrastructure seriously and urge anyone with information to contact law enforcement,” the federal agency told the outlet Sunday.

The attacks on the substations come one month after the FBI alerted law enforcement agencies in Washington and Oregon that they had received several reports of substation attacks in the Pacific Northwest region in November.

Five substation facilities, including PSE stations, confirmed their facilities had been vandalized.

On December 3, two substations in North Carolina received gunfire from unknown suspects, leaving approximately 45,000 residents without power in the area.


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