Most people freeze or toss their leftovers, but Farmville, North Carolina, has hit on a different strategy: immolate them. A silo full of sweet potatoes in the small town has been on fire since the day after Thanksgiving, and, like your uncle after you tried to talk politics, the blaze still shows no sign of letting up.
Farmville’s volunteer fire department has soaked the caramelizing silo around the clock since smoke first appeared on November 27. While the fire poses no threat to residents, some have complained about the smoky smell, which likely triggers memories of catastrophic holidays past.
This is merely the latest gambit the yams have pulled. Over the summer, some of the dehydrated sweet potatoes got damp and then dried out again, solidifying into a mass “harder than concrete,” says town manager David Hodgkins. The Natural Blend pet food company, which owns the silo, hired contractors to pry out the potato pavement, and an errant spark from their efforts probably started the blaze.
Two weeks later, and desperate firefighters are flying helicopters over the silo to get infrared images, consulting oil well fire experts, and buying up water from nearby Greenville (the parched potatoes have sucked up over 25 million gallons so far).
Hodgkins says they will likely try and “allow the silo to burn itself out.” But there’s one thing the whole town agrees with your dad on: the potatoes are definitely, definitely done.
Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gastro Obscura covers the world’s most wondrous food and drink.
Sign up for our weekly email.