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‘Vandalism’ leaves 40,000 without power in North Carolina

A widespread power outage in North Carolina is being investigated as an intentional act of vandalism after at least two substations were damaged by gunfire, authorities say.

Power went out in to 45,000 households in Moore County just after 7pm on Saturday, leading to officials to declare a disaster and impose an overnight curfew from 9pm Sunday, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said during a press conference.

Mr Fields told reporters that the substations had been deliberately “targeted” with gunfire by individuals who “knew what they were doing”.

He said investigators had not found any evidence to link the attacks to a drag queen performance at the Sunrise Theatre in Southern Pines on Saturday.

According to the News & Observer, protesters had picketed the theater over a drag queen show earlier on Saturday night.

A resident who had promoted the protest wrote on Facebook: “The power is out in Moore County and I know why.”

The woman, who says she works at a group called Moore County Citizens for Freedom, later said she had been visited by law enforcement officers.

“I told them that God works in mysterious ways and is responsible for the outage,” the woman wrote.

“I used the opportunity to tell them about the immoral drag show and the blasphemies screamed by its supporters.

“I told them God is chastising Moore County, thanked them for coming, and wished them a good night.”

Sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement agencies are providing security at several power stations, according to the sheriff’s office.

Utility company Duke Energy said nearly 38,000 customers were without power in Moore County, while the Randolph Electric Membership Corporation reported outages affected nearly 3,000 customers in the county’s southern area, WRAL-TV reported.

Power is expected to be restored by 10pm on Sunday.

Moore County is about 50 miles northwest of Fayetteville.