Updated: October 10, 2020 11:22 PM
Created: October 10, 2020 11:19 PM
DALTON, Ma. - A Berkshire County man is under arrest, accused of setting fire to and trying to destroy a show of support for the Biden-Harris presidential ticket in Dalton, Massachusetts.
The display was made out of painted hay bales, which were arranged on North Street across from Holiday Brook Farm.
Farmers there set it up on Thursday evening. Less than 24 hours later someone set it on fire.
Fortunately, they were able to save a few of the bales to arrange into a new display and police have already found the person they say is responsible for setting the fire.
Dalton police charged Lonnie Durfee, 49, with burning personal property in the incident.
"You don't ever expect it to happen in your backyard and you certainly don't expect it to happen in Dalton,” said Kate Pike, a farmer at Holiday Brook.
Pike said she stopped at the sign not five minutes before someone set it ablaze Friday night.
"I actually was driving home and saw that it had been vandalized, so I pulled over to see what kind of vandalism had been done to it,” Pike said. “It looked like someone had poured something that looked kind of like coffee all over it, so I actually stopped and took a picture. It looked like kind of graffiti on it and [police] were able to use the timestamp of that photograph."
Officials later told her that coffee-like substance was believed to be motor oil. When that didn’t ignite the bales, Durfee allegedly came back to the scene to try again shortly after Pike left.
Two farmers were still working when they the flames from across the street.
"And because they were bailing wrapped bales they had the grabber on the tractor they could come right over here and while it was a blaze on one end quickly trying to take off the bales on this end,” Pike said.
The farmers rearranged the salvaged bales into a new display on Saturday morning.
Pike said though she was proud of the first sign, she's even prouder of the second and the community support they've gotten since news of the fire broke.
"There's always going to be disagreements, no one's ever going to have the same view as you, but you just got to keep standing up for what you believe in,” she said.
Dalton Police are still investigating the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact investigators at 413-684-0300.
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