Multi-Agency Investigation into Cause of Fire at Historic Downtown Building | Persons of Interest Sought

By September 12, 2020Press Releases

The Columbia Police and Fire Departments, CFD Fire Marshal’s Office with assistance from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are investigating the cause and origin of the large-scale fire that destroyed a historic downtown landmark early this morning.

Incident Recap:

At approximately 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 12, 2020, a CPD officer on patrol in the  2100 block of Bull Street detected a strong odor of smoke and saw a dense layer of fog hovering in the area.

During the same time frame, CFD crews were already approaching the scene of the Babcock Building, owned by Clachan Properties to extinguish the 3-alarm blaze.  Firefighters found flames coming from the basement area and quickly requested a full structure fire response. The fire burned the historic building’s roof, including the iconic dome and caused several structural collapses inside.

In all, more than 50 firefighters with the aid of 14 firetrucks, along with support from the Fort Jackson Fire Department worked courageously to extinguish the massive and quickly-spreading flames for more than ten hours.

During the operation, two CFD firefighters suffered minor injuries when debris from the building fell on top of them. One firefighter who was transported to a local hospital has been treated and released.

While estimates are still being determined, the fire likely caused millions of dollars’ worth of damages to the landmark.

Persons of Interest:

The investigating agencies are releasing several surveillance pictures of at least six persons of interest who were seen in the area at the time of the fire.

Investigators want to identify and locate the people who may have valuable information to aid the case. The group also occupied a red truck at the time.

The law enforcement agencies encourage citizens with information regarding the whereabouts of the persons of interest, the vehicle or the fire itself to contact CRIMESTOPPERS in any of the following ways:

CALL toll-free, 888-CRIME-SC.

LOG onto:, and click on the red “Submit a tip” tab.

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