Thick black smoke roiled upwards from a fire of unknown origin at the largely deserted old state farmers market this afternoon.
A dozen firefighters battled the blaze, which started shortly after 3 p.m.
Interim Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said the old warehouse had been slated for demolition and was full of thick -- really ugly -- black smoke, so he was not going to admit any firefighters to the inside of the building. Furthermore, Jenkins said the building appeared to be empty.
The building itself was an aging one story warehouse more than 70 yards long. Shortly before 4 p.m., firefighters continued to battle the blaze. Two of them were perched on the end of a long ladder, about 10 feet off the ground that was slung horizontally over the pavement so firefighters could direct a thick stream of water into the doorway of the building at a close distance. Small pops and explosions were heard 50 yards away as firefighters battled the blaze.
The thick smoke, pushed by a steady west wind, moved toward the Congaree River and Lexington County.