A fire destroyed an eight-room boarding house near Franklin and 10th streets at 6:55 p.m. Thursday.
When Columbus firefighters arrived, flames had overtaken the house, and there were conflicting reports about whether anyone was inside, Columbus Fire Department spokesman Capt. Mike Wilson said.
However, within an hour, the tenants who occupied seven of the eight rooms had been located, and they were not injured, Wilson said.
The first 911 call reported heavy smoke and flames spotted in the older, two-story building at 938 Franklin St.
When the fire broke out, occupant Bev Hughes was outside with her back to the front porch as she was preparing to move items from one vehicle to another.
Hughes said she immediately turned around when she heard a crackling sound.
“I saw mattresses that had been stacked up on the front porch ablaze,” Hughes said. “Then I saw flames shooting up from the porch to the roof.”
Property manager Tom Clark said he believes the fire was deliberately set, as the building had just passed a code inspection earlier in the week.
One tenant had been taken to jail earlier in the day, while a number of others had recently been evicted, Clark said.
“We did find a gas can in the back, but we’re not jumping to any conclusions,” Columbus Fire Investigator Matt Noblitt said. “Nothing has been ruled out.”
The property recently had been assessed at $105,000, Clark said.
The boarding house is owned by Monroe Pendleton, according to Noblitt.
The Red Cross was called to the scene and provided water to firefighters. No injuries to firefighters were reported.
Red Cross representatives also worked to find the tenants other housing for Thursday night.