North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey called for more security at state power substations this week following the vandalization in Moore County that left tens of thousands of people in the dark for four days.

“I think it really gave us a wake-up call to provide better security at our power substations ” Causey said at the Council of State meeting on Wednesday.

In addition to dangers of going without refrigeration, medical devices, and other needs, nearly 40,000 people have been forced to create makeshift bonfires and heating sources.

Causey also shared a sobering statistic at the meeting that 123 people in North Carolina have died in fires this year in the state, with 116 of those in house fires. This figure includes two children who died this week in Rowan County.  

He said the children lived in an older home with high ceilings, and space heaters were used to keep it warm. One heater by the children’s bed may have caught fire due to fabric getting too close to it.

He warned to keep children away from space heaters, but the biggest piece of advice is to have working smoke alarms.

“There are smoke alarms out there that you can get at any hardware store that have 10-year batteries, so it’s worth 10 minutes to protect your family for ten years,” Causey said. 

Safety and security around substations are likely to remain a priority as the N.C. General Assembly gavels in for the long session in January.

“Commissioner Causey, you’re right,” said Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper. “I do think we need to take a long-term view about making sure that our critical infrastructure is hardened, and we’ll be talking with state and federal officials about that as we move forward.”