BELLEVUE, Wash. — Critical infrastructure across the country has been put on alert after an attack on two substations in North Carolina, an incident that cut power to tens of thousands for days.
Washington law enforcement sources confirm that they received a memo from the FBI warning them about similar attacks to power stations in the Pacific Northwest.
The memo read:
"Power companies in Oregon and Washington have reported physical attacks on substations, using hand tools, arson, firearms and metal chains possibly in response to an online call for attacks on critical infrastructure. In recent attacks, criminal actors bypassed security by cutting the fence links, lighting nearby fires, shooting equipment from a distance or throwing objects over the fence and onto equipment."
Some of those attacks happened within the last couple weeks.
One of the largest power providers in the state, Puget Sound Energy, told KING 5 Wednesday that two incidents occurred at their stations in late November.
"We are aware of recent threats on power systems across the country and take these very seriously. We are monitoring our infrastructure and can confirm we have had two incidents occur in late November at two different substations. Both incidents are under investigation by the FBI," said a representative of PSE.
To further understand what might be the potential motive for such attacks on the power grid, we spoke with a journalist who has spent years researching and reporting on the actions of extremist groups.
"The trope of attacking power infrastructure-- of hitting the electrical grid, critical infrastructure -- is an old tenet of the American extreme right wing," said Ali Winston, an independent journalist.
Residents in Clackamas County, Oregon were lucky to leave unscathed and with the lights on after a recent attack of their own.
"Early on Thanksgiving morning, we did have an attack on one of our substations in Clackamas, Oregon," said Doug Johnson, Senior Spokesperson, Bonneville Power Administration. "It was deliberate-- there's no question that somebody meant to do it. It looked like they used something sharp to cut through a fence there that's designed to keep people out."
He said he is hopeful the community assists in their effort to monitor and report any suspicious activity.
"This can have a really really bad effect on a lot of people," said Johnson.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, power was restored Wednesday evening after four days in the dark for the tens of thousands of people there who were affected by substation attacks.
If you are aware of anyone targeting any kind of infrastructure, you are advised to call local law enforcement or the FBI Seattle.