Good morning Columbus. What you need to know: Fire photos and your help, blizzard of ’78 anniversary, Girl Scout cookies, athletes of the week

Good morning Columbus —

You all get journalism gold medals today. Your news-gathering efforts Wednesday when a fire broke out at a carpet store in Columbus were top-notch.

The photos you posted to our Facebook page were terrific, and helped tell the story of the blaze that destroyed businesses, shut down streets, had schools altering bus routes and unleashed a thick cloud that could be seen for miles and miles.

This was the lead of our story:

A fire that sent acrid smoke floating over Columbus, visible for miles, destroyed a local carpet store and a fitness center and disrupted travel near downtown for hours.

How were we able to use the description visible for miles? Because you showed us.

Our reporters were immediately on the ground near Carpet Mania on 10th Street, shooting video, taking photographs and describing the scene.

You were elsewhere, and quickly went into reporter mode, posting photos and videos to our Facebook page and letting everyone know where you were when you became citizen-journalists. Because of your posts, we could see in real time what you were seeing — from State Road 252, from downtown Columbus, from Bush’s Market, from Interstate 65 and more.

fire downtownBettye Ruth Quillen Anthony posted photos taken on State Road 252 as she was traveling near Edinburgh. Catherine Jean Cook took a photo near Bush’s Market. Adrian Moore Pitcher snapped a photo from Interstate 65. Erin Crank was near the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds and shared her photo. Karen Hargett, from downtown Columbus, posted a photo (left) that showed a dark cloud of smoke.

One photo sent to us later in the day gave a remarkable bird’s-eye view of the scene. Licensed commercial aerial photographer Craig Elsner of Bumblebee Drones, Seymour, offered up this photo:

 An aerial view of Wednesday's Carpet Mania fire in Columbus was taken by licensed commercial aerial photographer Craig Elsner of Bumblebee Drones, Seymour.So thank you. We can’t be everywhere, and we rely on you to share your story ideas, news tips and yes, photographs and videos. You came through in a big way.

We are following up on the fire story today, asking authorities about the cause, any lingering environmental impacts and loss estimates. You’ll want to read all about the fire here and check out Republic photographer Mike Wolanin’s excellent work — video and still photos. Link here.

Here’s what else you need to know today —

40 years ago: The Blizzard of 1978.
Where were you? There were 20-foot snow drifts, 40 mph winds and temperatures that plummeted from 34 degrees to zero overnight. The death toll from the storm rose to over 70 people across the region. It included 5 in Kentucky, 11 in Indiana and 51 in Ohio. Take a look at our front page from Jan. 26, 1978.

Exhibit Columbus: What four are staying?
Anything Can Happen in the Woods? Conversation Plinth? Wiikiaami? Another Circle? OK, we’re giving up the answer, but you’ve got to click this link to find out.

Thin Mints, Tagalongs and S’mores. Here goes my new year’s resolution.
Truckloads of Girl Scout cookies are scheduled to be delivered today in central Indiana, including part of a 2 million box shipment heading to Columbus.

‘It’s not enough that Larry Nassar is going to jail for the rest of his life.’
I commend you to read a column by Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post. Wow. Just wow. Here’s an excerpt:

A national organization with the initials USA on it forced young girls to submit to pelvic exams by a child molester. Literally hundreds of them were isolated in mandatory “camps” and were repeatedly assaulted by a barehanded pedophile for years on end, while nobody cared to notice that no decent doctor would perform such an exam on young girls, much less ungloved. Where in the fresh red hell is an independent investigation into USA Gymnastics, and why isn’t Congress threatening to smash the U.S. Olympic Committee’s charter into pieces with a gavel over this?

Here’s the link to the entire column.

Need something to do this weekend?
We’ve got a long list of activities in our Go! Guide. Link here.

Meet the Athletes of the Week.
Dawson Combest, Columbus East senior wrestler, and Sami Heathcote, Columbus North sophomore gymnast, share the best advice they’ve ever got, their favorite book and their top role model. Click here.

Have a great day!

Author photo
Scarlett Syse is group editor of The Republic. Contact her at ssyse@therepublic.com.