COLUMBIA — Thirteen units responded to a fire Tuesday afternoon that leveled an abandoned barn in northeast Columbia. What began as a small fire spread to the surrounding brush, turning into what looked like a small forest fire, witnesses said.
Two eyewitnesses confirmed that three or four youths were seen around the barn before the fire erupted behind a duplex at 2907 N. Willowbrook Road. No one was injured.
"They had been in there yesterday, and I told them to get out," said Lamont Moody, who called in the fire. "Today they were back in there, and I saw them running from the barn when it caught on fire."
The barn was located behind Moody's house, but the owner of the barn is unknown.
"They were about to run back in the barn when (Moody) was on the phone with 911," said Tiffany Pankey, who lives next to Moody. "As soon as they ran away, the fire erupted."
Battalion Chief James L. Weaver said the fire took 30 minutes to knock down after the call was placed at 5:28 p.m. Even before the call, smoke could be seen from I-70, Weaver said.
The dollar loss of the barn has not been determined. Police are investigating the cause of the fire.