The smoke billowing from Cabinet Supply Inc. on Brown Avenue Thursday afternoon was 50-feet high when Lu Foster first saw it.
He was at his work at Short's Auto Body, just down the road, when a man came across Seventh Street to ask if the business was on fire. Around 11:10 a.m., Columbus Fire and EMS were on the scene, spraying down the blaze from the ground and the air.
No one was hurt in the fire that destroyed the business at 709 Brown Ave.
"They were able to salvage some computer equipment, files," said Fire Chief Jeff Meyer. "It was pretty much going on as the fire was happening."
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The fire started as some store employees were scraping paint off the walls. Paint thinner was being used and a little overspray combined with a spark from one of the scrapers started the blaze, said Fire Marshal Thomas Streeter.
There were at least two and as many as five people inside the building. The person whose scraper ignited the fire ran through the building that sat behind The Kingdom Church, telling everyone to run.
"It's a total loss," Streeter said.
Flames were still visible from Seventh Street at noon. One firefighter concentrated his fire hose on a patch of twisted metal near a short concrete barrier. Moments later, he turned his gaze to another patch, forcing the water to stop another flare.
Nearby, a large fan stood blackened as heavy smoke escaped into the sky. Heat from the fire could be felt from 40 yards away.
"Because of the chemicals, we didn't want to put any one inside," Streeter said.
Two firefighters had dehydration and required an IV drip to replenish their fluids, the fire marshal said. Both had recovered by early afternoon.
A total of three buildings were caught in the blaze — all part of the cabinet store. No other buildings were affected by the fire, Streeter said.
By 12:15 p.m., the fire was under control, said Fire Chief Jeff Meyer. What then remained was for firefighters to search the debris for hidden fires and extinguish them.