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No injuries in downtown fire

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A fire that erupted Sunday morning in downtown Columbus in a two-story building that houses a bead shop was mostly confined to an upstairs apartment.

A preliminary cause of the 8 a.m. fire at 911 Washington St. is believed to be an electrical short in the attic above the second-floor kitchen, according to Columbus public safety officer Matt Myers. However, an official cause will not be determined until fire inspectors complete an investigation.

No injuries were reported. Firefighters estimate damage to the contents and building at $25,000.

Beads de Colores is on the first floor; Eddie Santos owns the building.

Apartment tenant Enrique Hernandez, 32, said he and his roommate, Arturo Yanez, 35, discovered their electrical outlets weren’t working at 1 a.m. While both smelled something burning, Hernandez said neither was able to detect any sign of a fire within their dwelling at that time, so both decided to go to sleep.

The roommates were building a bedroom for Yanez in an area between the kitchen and living room, according to Hernandez. He said Yanez, who was sleeping in the construction area, woke him up in his west side bedroom about 7:45 a.m. and told him the roof was on fire.

“At first, I thought he was joking,” Hernandez said. “But when I came to the kitchen, I saw the roof turning black. We could both feel the heat building up in the kitchen. As soon as that happened, I called 911.”

Firefighters, who were on the scene in less than three minutes, were preparing to enter the apartment just as the ceiling collapsed in the kitchen area, according to Columbus Fire Department Capt. Tim Hughes. He said while the fire was likely smoldering in the attic overnight, there was little smoke and fire in the apartment before the collapse that might set off the smoke detectors off.

“That is a dangerous type of fire,” Hughes said. “If we hadn’t been there when the ceiling collapsed, the whole (building) could have become lit within minutes.”

The fire was contained in about 10 minutes. Hughes said thermal imaging equipment was used to pinpoint the source of the fire.

Washington Street was closed to traffic between 8th and 11th streets while firefighters from four different stations were on the scene. Hughes said his men finally cleared the area shortly after 11:30 a.m.

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