A widespread power cut in North Carolina is being investigated as an intentional act of vandalism, authorities say.
Power went out in several communities in Moore County just after 7pm on Saturday, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said in a Facebook post.
“As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites,” the sheriff said.
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, Mr Fields said.
A Duke Energy spokesman who was asked about reports of gunfire prior to the outage said they couldn’t comment on what had caused the damage to power stations.
According to the News & Observer, protesters had picketed the Sunrise Theater in the city of Sunrise Pines 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.
Moore County is about 50 miles northwest of Fayetteville.