2-alarm fire leaves historic Babcock Building damaged

More than 50 firefighters with Columbia Richland Fire helped preserve a piece of Columbia’s history on the evening of December 13, 2018.

Fire coming from upper floors of Columbia’s historic Babcock building

At around 5:30 p.m. fire broke out on an upper floor of the Babcock Building off of Calhoun Street. The building, which used to be part of the South Carolina State Hospital, has a history dating back to the mid 1800s when it was built in four sections. It has been listed on the National Register since October 30, 1981.

When CFD’s first crews arrived on scene they found fire visible from the fourth floor of the building’s south section. Eventually that fire began to shoot through the roof and a second alarm was sounded for more units to respond.

The sheer age of the building was the biggest concern early in the operation. Commanders on scene chose not to send firefighters inside the structure because of the condition of its wooden floors.

Instead department ladder and tower trucks were used to spray water on the fire from above.  At around 10 p.m. crews were able to enter the building and attack the fire from within. By 11 p.m. the fire was under control and in total the operation lasted more than five hours.

Thankfully there were no reports of any firefighters or civilians being injured.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Initial estimates are that the incident caused approximately $500,000 in damages.