ROCKINGHAM — A former “nuisance” house went up in smoke Saturday morning as firefighters used it for training.
The property, at 130 South Street, was set ablaze for a live-fire training exercise by the East Rockingham and Cordova volunteer fire departments.
ERFD Chief Bill Bayless said there were a few from Hamlet training as well.
Seasoned firemen gave junior firefighters tips on how to attack the flames and keep surrounding areas from catching fire.
In addition to the main house, there was also a large storage building out back.
Bayless said fire departments have to get permission from the state and the EPA before using a house for training.
“And when all that paperwork’s done, we’ll schedule a day to burn it,” he said.
“Mike Burns has been doing a real good job on these dilapidated houses around East Rockingham,” Bayless said.
Resident Superior Court Judge Stephan Futrell on Feb. 24 signed a consent judgment for a Chapter 19 Nuisance Abatement action against the property.
Chapter 19 of the North Carolina General Statutes defines nuisance properties as those used for prostitution, gambling, possession or sale of controlled substances, illegal alcohol, or obscene or lewd material.
Properties are also considered a nuisance if they constitute a “breach of the peace” through repeated acts.
Richmond County Sheriff Mark Gulledge said in a late March press release that the house had been “a problem for years, causing the community to live in fear and constantly draining emergency services and law enforcement resources.”
Gulledge added that the property owner had been cooperative in the process and expressed “hope this successful resolution will ensure the community returns to a more peaceful life.”
Per the order, the property had to be vacated by May 3.
“Mike Burns has been doing a real good job on these dilapidated houses around East Rockingham, and we really appreciate it” Bayless said. “He’s getting them condemned and getting rid of them.”
Burns, a former deputy, is now an enforcement officer for the county and is on the board of directors for ERFD and Northside Volunteer Fire Department.
Around 11:30 Friday night, Bayless said there was a fire at an abandoned house on Wilson Street, which had previously burned in December 2021.
See more training photos below.