Three good Samaritans helped evacuate part of a local shopping center and extinguish a restaurant fire along 25th Street.

Columbus firefighters were called at 3 p.m. Monday to the Tasty Express, 1804 25th St., about a fire by someone who said flames were visible inside the restaurant and that an evacuation of the strip mall was underway, said Capt. Mike Wilson, Columbus Fire Department spokesman.

When police and firefighters arrived moments later, they found the fire was out.

Earlier, Haley Jewell and Madison Woodard were sitting at their desks at Columbus Optical, 2475 Cottage Ave., when Jewell noticed black smoke coming from the roof of Tasty Express, Wilson said.

Jewell told firefighters she saw flames inside the restaurant, some visible above the roof. Jewell called 911 while Woodard left the office, ran across the street to the strip mall and started alerting other businesses located there about the fire, Wilson said.

Woodard went to the Pink and White Nails facility at 1774 25th St., and retrieved a fire extinguisher and went to the Tasty Express to seek if she could assist in putting out the fire, Wilson said.

Pickers Paradise owner Dale Burton was already in the restaurant with a fire extinguisher and both used the devices in the area of the restaurant’s cooking grill, extinguishing the flames, Wilson said. They were not injured.

Firefighters determined the fire was confined to the cooking grill and the exhaust hood system. It was ruled accidental.

The restaurant was closed until the Bartholomew County Health Department could do an inspection, said Capt. Matt Noblitt, fire department inspector.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.