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 to FRK Development in 2008, which then donated it to Catholic Charities for a planned youth substance abuse treatment center.

When those plans fell through, Catholic Charities sold the property and home in October 2010 to Larry Smith of Elkhorn for $612,000. 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.


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