One firefighter was treated for second-degree burns and another remains in The Medical Center after they were injured while battling a warehouse fire late Friday in the 1600 block of Third Avenue, officials with the Columbus Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services said Saturday.
Fire Chief Jeff Meyer identified the firefighters as David Smith and Chris Burris. Burris was treated for second-degree burns at the hospital and released, while Smith remains in the hospital for second-degree burns and surgery to repair a broken right ankle.
"They had a job to do and unfortunately they were injured," Meyer said of the veteran firefighters. "I can tell you they were in good spirits at the emergency room last night. We are going to do everything we can to support them."
The fire at Railroad Ave
nue engulfed a building that was once the old Burnham warehouse, Fire Marshal Ricky Shores said. Units from the Columbus Fire & Emergency Medical Services responded at 10:22 p.m. Three firefighters were on the loading dock of the structure when a large explosion blew them back, injuring two of them.
It was after midnight before firefighters brought the blaze under control. About 25 firefighters and 12 units responded. It forced the temporary closure of the Norfolk-Southern rail line, Shores said.
The building, which is about 100 years old, is long and skinny and posed significant risks for firefighters, Shores said.
"It was a nasty fire," he added.
At 7 a.m. Saturday, firefighters were still on the scene and had not yet searched the building.
"We need to get in there and see if anyone was in there when it caught on fire," Shores said. There is a significant homeless population in the area.
Firefighters returned to the scene Saturday afternoon with a ladder truck to douse hot spots in the still smoldering warehouse.
The cause of the fire, which destroyed the structure, remains under investigation.