ROCKINGHAM — A man working on the roof of a building that caught fire Thursday night is recovering from burns.
Fire Chief Harold Isler said he was told that the man was pouring gasoline into a generator when it exploded, causing major burns to his arms and face and eventually setting fire to the second floor of the building at 647 McNair Road.
The call for the fire went out at 8:06 p.m. and the upper floor was fully engulfed and flames had broken through the tar-shingled roof when crews arrived — however, the victim was not there.
“They can be a little difficult to put out,” Isler said of the tiles.
Firemen battled the blaze from the outside, spraying through windows and from above as the ladder extended from the truck over the building’s roof. Although the fire was under control in about 45 minutes, crews remained on scene dousing hot spots for nearly three more hours.
Isler said the victim was not at the scene when they arrived, but was later brought back, checked out by EMS personnel and eventually flown to the UNC burn center in Chapel Hill.
The chief added that he is still trying to figure out exactly what sparked the fire.
The building, owned by Margaret Watson, was heavily damaged, he said. The stairs were burned away and it was so unsafe, he didn’t feel comfortable sending anyone up there to check things out.
There was no power going to the building, although he was told the upstairs was being used as a recording studio.
Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly said the fire is still under investigation. About five years ago, he said officers discovered the building was a disposal site for methamphetamine waste, but after the fire, it was too damaged to tell if there was any evidence there was any meth-making activity involved.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.