ZEBULON, NC — A former nightclub near Zebulon is now just a hot spot after a fire destroyed the vacant building that once housed Thad's Studio 39.
"We received the call this morning at 10 minutes after 5 of a structure fire at this location. The right side was totally in flame," said Zebulon Fire Chief Sidney Perry.
Firefighters arrived at the blaze on Old U.S. 264 in Zebulon around 5:15 a.m., just a few minutes after they were alerted. By dawn, the smoke fanned out, resembling a hurricane with fire in its eye.
It could be days before the fire's cause is known.
"At this point in time we have no idea what may have caused it since the building was vacant. There was no electricity to the building," said Perry.
Some say Thad's Studio 39 was always a magnet for trouble.
Last April, city, county and state law enforcement groups wrapped up a sting operation with evidence that the club's owner, Thad Atkinson, was selling crack and powder cocaine.
Atkinson was convicted of those drug charges and is now serving a 30-year sentence in federal prison.
The federal drug task force was in the process of seizing his property, some of which is now destroyed.
Teresa Atkins was glad authorities shut down the club seven months ago and now, she is even happier.
"I hope no one ever builds another place there again," Atkins said. "I'm grateful it's closed down and burnt to the ground."