Everybody benefits as Holly Springs house set on fire

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Monday, June 6, 2016
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A house is set on fire so firefighters can run real-world drills.

HOLLY SPRINGS (WTVD) -- A burning house stopped traffic Monday morning not far from UNC Rex Healthcare's Holly Springs campus.

The fire was set intentionally, firefighters know. How? Because they set the old house on fire themselves.

The land this home sits on is going to be used for more medical care, so the house had to go. But rather than just tear it down, Rex decided setting it ablaze would benefit the community in multiple ways.

"We purchased this property a couple years ago in planned expansion for our next phase of medical office buildings as well as Holly Springs Hospital," said Tom Williams of UNC Rex Healthcare. "So it was a great opportunity for us rather than tearing it down, to work with the Holly Springs Fire Department as well as the Wake County Fire Academy so they could be training.

Firefighters grabbing hoses and went in and out of the house in shifts to battle the flames.

"We don't get the opportunity to train in a real structure very often," said Leroy Smith, Holly Springs fire chief.

Once the flame were out, the fire was re-started.

"It's valuable," Smith said. "It may be a little inconvenient for the people driving by because they are slowing down and disrupting traffic a little bit."

Bales of hay and wooden pallets fueled the flames.

This one is a little uncontrolled as you can see," Smith said. "We've got several hose lines positioned around the structure for safety. So this gives firefighters, especially new recruits, an opportunity to get a taste of what it's really like, as close as we can get it without having a real fire.

Each time, it teaches crews at every level a valuable lesson.

"The more experienced firefighters, it gives them an opportunity to practice the skills that we work on with hose-line management," Smith said, "and even the more senior guys get to watch how the smoke behaves, so everyone takes lessons away from this."

Chief Smith also said this should serve as a reminder to make sure your home has working smoke detectors, and your family has an escape plan.

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