ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — 300 hay bales destined for crisp autumn tractor rides and a fall-themed maze met an untimely fate over the weekend in Elizabeth City.
The bales were intentionally set on fire about an hour after being placed into a lot behind the 1706 W Ehringhaus St. Chick-fil-A on Sunday night, according to a Facebook post from the restaurant.
It took 15 firefighters two and a half hours to get the fire under control after responding to the 600 block of Hughes Blvd. around 6:50 p.m.
No one was hurt, and the Chick-fil-A and surrounding businesses weren’t touched by flames, but the spontaneous act threw a wrench into the restaurant’s Fall Festival set for 5-8 p.m. on Halloween.
“To put it frankly, it was “just hay”, and we can replace it. I’m thankful that no one was hurt and we are alive and well right now,” said store operator Juan Ortiz in a Facebook comment.
Elizabeth City Fire Chief Corey Mercer says the fire was intentionally set and fire officials are reviewing surveillance video from surrounding businesses to find a suspect.
To avoid any chances of the hay catching fire again, the replacement shipment will come in on Wednesday, Oct. 31 before the festival around 11:45 a.m.-noon.
The restaurant says the festival, which also includes face painting, a balloon artist, pumpkin decorating and more, will need help from volunteers setting up the hay and stacking it for the maze. They also need help putting the hay back in the trailer that evening. Those who’d like to help can message them on Facebook or give them a call at 252-331-1907.