A 15-year old mansion built by former NFL star Rod Kush in Gretna, Neb., was reduced to smoldering rubble on Sunday after firefighters set the abandoned home ablaze as part of their training.
The ostentatious, 14,000-square-foot former home of the ex-Buffalo Bills safety -- once called the "finest mansion in all of Sarpy County" -- used to be valued at $2.6 million. But now it's gone.
Kush built the house (pictured at left before the fire) in 1997, but after financial setbacks forced him to sell it for $1.6 million, the home fell into disrepair. It became overrun with mold and was damaged by vandals. The Sarpy County assessor eventually deemed the home worthless, and the current owner donated it to the local fire department for a controlled burn.
"It would cost more to mitigate the mold damage than the house is worth," Sarpy County Assessor Dan Pittman told the Omaha World-Herald in October.
The Gretna Volunteer Fire Department, along with other agencies, set the house on fire room-by-room until the entire home was in flames. Once the test fire was completed, the house was burned entirely to the ground.
In a YouTube video, scores of onlookers crowd the home's lawn to watch the burning. The house can be seen crumbling under the flames.
After Kush sold the mansion, it changed hands a couple of times until a developer snapped up the property for only $612,000 in 2010.
"At one time there was nothing like it in Sarpy County, with that big staircase like something out of 'Gone With the Wind,' " Pittman told the World-Herald. "But it got to the point where there was standing water in the house, and it wasn't safe to enter it without a mask."
The current owner plans to build new structures on the 35-acre property, local station KETV in Omaha reported.
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