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Fire, building collapse blocks 5th Street in Columbus

The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce was among the tenants of the two damaged buildings.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — An overnight building fire and collapse shut down a block of 5th Street in downtown Columbus Sunday morning. 

Firefighters reported three injuries from falls at the scene.

According to the Columbus Fire Department, the fire started at approximately 11:50 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, in the 400 block of 5th Street. A passerby saw flames and called 911. 

The building in the 400 block of Fifth Street was "well-involved" when firefighters arrived and part of the single-story portion at the back of the building collapsed. The fire then spread to the rear of 422 Fifth St. 

As firefighters searched for anybody inside, a cat ran out of a business in the 422 building before smoke and flames caused firefighters to evacuate and work the fires from the street.

A large portion of the third-story facade of 422 Fifth St. collapsed, narrowly missing a firefighter, and raining debris on a ladder truck as it was directing water stream into upper-floor windows. No firefighters were on the ladder at the time of the collapse, but the damage to the engine took it out of service.

Credit: Columbus Fire Dept.
Firefighters battled an overnight building fire on 5th Street in downtown Columbus, Ind. Dec. 3, 2022.

It took approximately four hours to gain control of the fire due to freezing temperatures. 

Flames also damaged electrical lines, and part of the downtown area was without power during the fire.

Due to debris left by the partial building collapse, Fifth Street will be closed to traffic between Washington Street and Franklin Street for an undetermined period of time.

Property management indicated both 422 and 440 Fifth Street are office buildings with no residents.

The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Bailey and Wood Financial Group, Arnholt and Staggs Law Office and TD Advertising are among the tenants, with several other businesses leasing space in the buildings.

 The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. 

Damage estimates are undetermined at this time. 

Credit: Columbus Fire Dept.
Firefighters battled a large building fire on 5th Street in downtown Columbus Saturday Dec. 3, 2022.

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