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Greenville Haunted Firehouse provides visitors scary good time

For the next month, the Greenville Fire Department will trade extinguishing fires for lighting them underneath several locals during the department’s 12th annual haunted house attraction.

With nearly a dozen events underneath the team’s collective belt, Capt. Les Liller said that it’s a constant challenge to find new ways to terrorize visitors.  Fortunately, they have more than a few resources at their disposal.

“Across the country there are conventions strictly for haunted houses and haunted attractions,” Liller said. “So with the conventions, we usually attend one or two a year for educational opportunities, and you deal with representatives throughout the industry —lighting, sound, costuming, fog machine vendors — anything to do with haunted attractions. By doing that, we are able to network with other people doing the same thing.”

The labyrinth of terror isn’t a construction thrown together a few weeks, or even months, beforehand.

It’s a yearlong labor that the department takes very seriously.

“We already have plans in our minds for next year as we go through this year,” Liller said.

“And once we close on Oct. 31, we usually take about three weeks off to rest and recuperate.  By the latter part of November, we’re already starting the demolition and rebuild for the next season.  And we continuously work on it throughout the year at least a couple of weekends out of the month during the early part of the year. And as time progresses and we get closer to the season, we’re out there pretty much every spare moment we have.”

There’s also a core group of personnel of about 15 people who actively work throughout the entire year to help to design, build and paint all of the sets.

The hard work shows in the haunted house’s increasingly growing fame, as it’s garnered attention from not only surrounding counties but neighboring states.

“We pull pretty good from the Georgia area, Mississippi, the Florida panhandle and we’ve had some people from Tennessee come down,” Liller said.

“And we like that for the town, too, because when you have people coming from a distance like that, they’ll more than likely stay a night in Greenville, stay in restaurants, use a lot of the facilities and then come and see our show.  So it works out good for everybody involved.”

This year’s event will have quite a few surprises in store for brave adventurers, including one terrifyingly grumpy new tenant.

“We have an elderly lady who has moved in with us, and we call her Granny,” Liller said.

“She’s taken up residence in one of the interior rooms, and she’s… a bit temperamental, let’s say.  When she’s disturbed out of her nap, she’s very difficult to deal with.”

The haunted house is open to visitors each Friday and Saturday through Oct. 31 from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m.  Tickets cost $7.