Major fire hits United Way in Columbus

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Updated: .

Eyewitness News

Columbus - Firefighters in Columbus spent Christmas Eve and a lot of Christmas Day fighting a major fire in the building that houses the United Way.

The first alarm came in around 7pm Thursday evening. The fire was reported to be in the United Way building at 1531 13th Street.  A fire department spokesperson says the fire was reported on the third floor of the building above the sprinkler system. Some 37 governmental and social service agencies are reportedly headquartered in the building. It appears the building was empty when the fire began.

Fire units initially entered the burning building but were forced out by heavy smoke.

Because the building had been renovated several times over the years, firefighters were forced to deal with additional walls and false ceilings which contributed to the decision to leave the building. At that point the blaze was fought defensively, from outside.

The Columbus Fire Department fought the blaze for 11 hours before it appeared they had brought it under control. However, around 6am the fire breached a firewall and flared up on the west side of the building forcing the recall of several fire units which had been sent back to their fire stations.

A fire department spokesman says at least half the building has been damaged by the blaze.

One slight injury was reported, but that firefighter was treated at the scene.