PARKER, Colo. — Despite a destructive fire early Monday morning, Flat Acres Farm in Parker will stay open this week for its annual fall festivities.
In a Facebook post, Flat Acres Farm announced its Fall Festival will start Wednesday and run through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and its Fright Acres Haunted Attraction will open Friday through Sunday from 7-10 p.m.
"We want to say thank you to the community we are in for the outreach of support from this unfortunate event that happened at Flat Acres Farm," it wrote in the post. "Due to the amazing community, first responders, employees and volunteers both Fright Acres and the Fall Festival will be open this week. We will persevere as a community. Please come out to show how strong this community is."
A verified GoFundMe was set up to help the owners recover.
Firefighters with South Metro Fire Rescue responded to the farm around 1:30 a.m. Monday after receiving a report of a fire on the property. The fire consumed hay bales and the farm's Fright Acres Haunted House. The fire was fully contained by 2:12 a.m. and no injuries were reported.
While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, the South Metro Fire Rescue Fire Marshal’s Office said two people were seen on surveillance footage at the farm just before the fire Monday. They walked inside a structure and a short time later, it caught fire. Investigators are working to identify the individuals, who are considered persons of interest in the case.
Steve Petalas, owner of Fright Acres Haunted Attraction at the farm, said the fire took out about 1/4 of the attraction that he and his crew had spent all summer building. This year, the haunt's theme was catacombs, and it was complete with fog, lights, skeletons and great scares, he said. His team gutted the entire structure to bring the community something different than last year.
Petalas said he was at home sleeping when the fire happened, and woke up to texts and calls about it. He hurried over as soon as he could.
"It was all gone," he said.
The farm had been vandalized several times in the previous few days, he said, and he feels like they were targeted.
"It was kind of a rough week," he said.
He said he doesn't know if the suspects, who he believes are teens or young adults, are the same in each incident.
"It's just frustrating that these kids just can't keep it together," Petalas said. "And they want to come out here and ruin other people's businesses, local businesses, livelihoods. Ruined it for everybody else. Ruined for the community. I don't think they fully understand the gravity of what they were doing or did and they think it's a joke. And they're out here screwing around. And it's sad."
He said the haunted attraction was curated out of a love for the season and Halloween, and to offer up a fun community event. But the suspects stole that from not only him, his crew and his family, but also all the future visitors.
"I haven't even had time to process exactly what all happened the other day," he said. "It's quite devastating to walk through here... It's gut-wrenching. It's disappointing. It's completely uncalled for, to be quite honest with you."
He said the haunt has been altered so people can still enjoy a trail around the area this week.
To report a tip on this case, including an anonymous one, call Deputy Fire Marshal Tyler Everitt at 720-989-2233 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the burn scar will be part of the farm's landscape in the immediate future, visitors are welcome to come to the Fall Festival and haunted attraction starting Wednesday. Families can enjoy a pumpkin patch and carving, food vendors, a corn maze and more at the festival.