14,000 plunged into darkness after attacks on electrical substations outside Tacoma, Washington

14,000 plunged into darkness after attacks on electrical substations outside Tacoma, Washington
A view of the substation while work is in progress as tens of thousands are without power on Moore County after an attack at two substations by Duke Electric were shot at in Carthage NC, United States on December 05, 2022. Across the country, in Tacoma, Washington, 14,000 are without power and vandalism is suspected.Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • More than 14,000 Washington state residents were without power on Christmas.
  • The power outages were caused by a vandalized power grid in the Tacoma area.

Four Washington state electrical facilities were vandalized on Christmas Day, according to local authorities. Damages caused power outages in Graham, Kapowsin, and Puyallup, affecting more than 14,000 customers according to Pierce County Sheriff's Office.

Police are investigating the matter and said Monday morning that there are no suspects in custody at this time and that power has been restored to most homes.

The Sheriff's Office reported that vandalism started early Sunday morning. Police responded to a 5:36 a.m. call about a burglary at a Tacoma power substation near Frederickson and found nothing taken but discovered damaged equipment and a power outage in the surrounding area.

A second call came in that morning alerting officers of another burglary at a different Tacoma power substation near Spanaway, according to the Sheriff's Office. Officers found a similar situation: nothing was stolen, but damaged property and an outage.

In the late morning, the Sheriff's Office was made aware of a power outage that occurred earlier that morning at a Puget Sound Energy (PSE) facility that had been broken into and also vandalized.


On Monday, the Sheriff's Office reported a fourth attack at a PSE substation in Kapowsin. The attack occurred Christmas evening. Damages were said to have caused a fire.

KING-TV, a Seattle-based NBC affiliate, said law enforcement sources received a memo from the FBI in early December that warned them of planned attacks against Pacific Northwest substations.

Three weeks ago, a North Carolina power grid was vandalized, leaving around 45,000 people in Moore County without power. Two of the vandalized substations were damaged by gunfire. The attacks came a week after The Department of Homeland Security re-upped a January report on the increasing likelihood of attacks on the country's electrical power grid.