In S.C., copper theft attempt killed perpetrator, 3,000 lose power

COWPENS, S.C. -- A man was killed trying to steal copper from a Duke Energy substation Monday, and thousands in Spartanburg County, S.C., were left without power overnight, according to firefighters at the scene.

Cowpens Fire Chief James Caggiano said they got a call about an explosion and fire at the substation at 245 Battleground Road about 9:40 p.m., and fire crews were at the scene less than five minutes later.

Firefighters found the man's body inside the fenced-in power station, Caggiano said.

The Spartanburg County coroner said Bobby Lee Lundeen, 41, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Caggiano said Lundeen was not authorized to be at the substation and was carrying some very suspicious equipment.

"They did find some items that would be used in the metal theft industry, cutters and that type thing," Caggiano said.

The fire and explosion, along with the wiring cut by Lundeen, knocked out the power to half the population of Cowpens, Caggiano said. Power to the other half of the town also had to be turned off so crews could safely work on the substation to get it back on line, according to Duke Energy. In all, more than 3,000 Duke Energy customers were affected, according to the company website.

Crews started to restore power to the area just before 3 a.m. Tuesday, and wrapped up their work by 4 a.m., Caggiano said.

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