The Imperial County Fire Department and Sheriff's Office were investigating a haystack fire west of El Centro as an arson, county fire Capt. Lon Hettinger reported this morning.
The fire erupted before 3 a.m. in a large haystack on Nichols Road north of Evan Hewes Highway.
The blaze continued to burn through the morning. By daybreak smoke continued to billow over the area as five county firefighters remained on scene to ensure the fire did not spread.
Hettinger said the fire caused about $30,000 and the hay belonged to Kuhn Hay of rural El Centro.
Hettinger reported that beer bottles were found around the haystack and there were footprints in the area.
He said the haystack had been at that location for an extended period and it had been covered with a tarp, adding there was no reason for a fire to erupt there.
>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.