Gunshots fired near Duke Energy facility in South Carolina

CBS News has learned that a man started a fire near a Duke Energy facility at the Wateree Hydro Station in Ridgeway, South Carolina, on Wednesday.

According to multiple sources, the individual pulled a truck outside the facility at 5:30 p.m. ET before opening fire with what appeared to be a long gun, and then speeding away. Several Duke Energy employees watched the event. No one was injured. It was not immediately known how many people were in the truck.

A law enforcement official confirmed to CBS News that shots were fired. In a statement to CBS News, Duke Energy said it is working “closely” with the FBI to investigate the issue.

A spokesman for Duke Energy told CBS News, “We are aware of reports of shots fired near the Wateree Hydro Station in Ridgeway.” “No people were harmed. No injuries reported. There is no known property damage at this time. We are working closely with the FBI on this issue.”

“We take this very seriously,” Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan told CBS affiliate WLTX-TV on Wednesday. According to the sheriff, preliminary reports indicate that a person started the fire near the trees surrounding the power plant. It was not immediately clear whether the facility itself was targeted.

Ridgway, South Carolina, is a small town of approximately 400 residents located across the state line and approximately 150 miles southwest of Moore County. The hydroelectric facility—which has been generating electricity for over a century—is located outside the city’s incorporated limits.

The shooting comes days after an “intentional” attack in which gunfire damaged two Duke Energy power substations, causing a widespread power outage in Moore County, North Carolina. It’s unclear whether the Moore County outage and Wednesday’s shooting are linked.

According to WLTX, officers from the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to investigate the incident aided by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

The incident was reported to the Energy Department.

“The Department of Energy takes the security of our nation’s power grid seriously, and we work closely with industry to identify and address emerging threats to the grid,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement to CBS News. We do.” “As power has been restored to North Carolina, we will continue to work with law enforcement on this incident and any other threats to critical energy infrastructure. Those who commit these crimes against our nation’s critical energy infrastructure , they will be held accountable.”

In January, a bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security obtained by CBS News warned that domestic violent extremists “have developed credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure through at least 2020, particularly attractive The electric grid has been identified as the target.” The department has not issued any guidance linking this week’s events to extremism. Speaking about the power outage in Moore County, South Carolina, the secretary said Monday that the attack “appears to have been intentional.”

“We are working with energy companies in local communities to address the situation affecting electricity reaching homes in targeted neighborhoods,” DHS Secretary Mayorkus said during an event in Washington, DC. The question is whether it is an act of malice or otherwise? Early evidence suggests that this was intentional. And investigation is going on.

“The utility sector has a real problem on its hands,” said Brian Harrell, former assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at DHS. “Power stations are an attractive target and domestic terrorist groups know that destroying this infrastructure can have serious impacts on industry, citizens and local governments.”

The FBI continues to seek information on the person or persons who it said vandalized two electrical substations in Moore County, turning off the lights for 45,000.

The FBI did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment.

Chris St. Peter and Pat Milton contributed to this report.

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