Flea market owner pleads no contest

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May 10, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The owner of the South Augusta Flea Market, Harold "Dusty" Rhodes, doesn't deny there were problems with his building.

That's what he told Richmond County Magistrate Court this morning.

The main building of the flea market burned to the ground Monday (May 7).

The fire department says there have been fire code violations there dating back several years. The most current were not having enough fire walls and exits.

They say more fire walls could have slowed the blaze.

Dusty Rhodes argues more fire hydrants could have saved his building. The nearest is a quarter mile away.

"It delayed the putting water on the fire for at least 25 minutes," he said. "That allowed the building to get going and burn down."

The fire department says his building did not have to be within 500 feet of a hydrant as the current code requires because it was built before those rules went into effect.

Rhodes recently submitted plans to fix his violations, but he still pleaded No Contest at today's hearing. He faces six months probation and a fine of $1355.

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