Columbus firefighters extinguished a small fire in a cardboard compacting machine at OfficeMax, 3200 Columbus Center, at 4:22 p.m. Wednesday.

Store manager Juan Mellado told firefighters he had entered the rear area of the store where stock is located and saw fire in the cardboard baler.

He attempted to extinguish the fire using two portable dry chemical fire extinguishers, but he was unsure whether the fire was out as smoke intensified in the area and the building’s fire alarm began to sound.

After calling 911, the store was evacuated, firefighters said. When firefighters arrived, they determined a small fire appeared to be isolated inside the compactor machine and quickly extinguished fire in smoldering cardboard.

Firefighters then concentrated on ventilating smoke out of the building and later checked the store for carbon monoxide gas, which was not found. No injuries were reported.

Columbus firefighters determined the fire was caused by an electrical short near the compactor’s motor, which ignited cardboard below the motor, said Capt. Mike Wilson, Columbus Fire Department spokesman.

For more on this story, see Friday’s Republic.

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