A Catawba County house once owned by former NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield was burned in a training exercise Thursday night.
The practice drill by the Catawba Volunteer Fire Department had been scheduled for last Saturday but was postponed because of expected rain.
Mayfield and his wife were evicted from the house in November 2012 after the home went into foreclosure.
The Mayfields purchased the 12,000-square-foot mansion in 2006 for $3.8 million.
The mansion, with seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms, was in the 6300 block of Hudson Chapel Road.
Mayfield has been suspended from NASCAR after failing a drug test in 2009.
Catawba Volunteer Fire Chief Donald Robinson said last week the house was in bad shape and that the new owner didn’t want to keep it.
Neighbors said they were surprised when the practice burning took place Thursday.
“We had no idea,” said Crystal Shook, who lives across the street from the property. “It was a very big fire, and the house went very quickly.”
On Friday morning she saw smoking rubble and “a chimney still standing.”
Shook recalled when the house was new and “very beautiful ” but said she understood why the owner would want to get rid of the structure.
“It would cost so much money to fix up,” she said.
Kenneth Bailey, who lives nearby, also watched the house burn.
“It was just a big fire,” said Bailey, 75.
He recalled years ago when the house was built, bulldozers worked at the site seven days a week.
Since he moved to the location on Hudson Chapel Road in the 1960s, change had been constant in the general area. Among other things, Bailey said, construction began on Cowans Ford Dam, which impounds the Catawba River to create Lake Norman, and that railroad spur was built to new Marshall Steam Station.
“It was country when I came, but it didn’t take long to change,” Bailey said.
Now, the landscape has been altered again. Looking up the street at where the mansion had stood Bailey said “they got rid of it.”
Now, he said the land will be used for farming and that soybeans have already been planted.