COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Columbia Fire Department and the Columbia Police Department are investigating what they believe is now an arson that happened Tuesday morning at the Walmart location on Harbison Boulevard.
Crews were called to the store around 3:30 a.m. and worked quickly to put out the fire. However, officials said the store suffered a heavy amount of damage from the flames and the smoke inside.
“The fire is out, but this is a pretty big store,” said Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins. “We’re working on getting all of the smoke out of there.”
Authorities believe the fire began in the food area of the store. Jenkins also pointed out there were 20 to 25 employees and a few customers in the store at the time of the fire, but there were no injuries reported from the incident.
Crews from Batesburg-Leesville were also on hand to assist with putting out the fire. Columbia’s fire chief says that around $3 million in damages were caused by the fire.
Jenkins and Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook are now looking for three persons of interest in this arson - two men and one woman - who were scene on surveillance photos entering the store.
“At this time, it’s believed that the fire was intentionally set in a food aisle of the store. A few employees and customers were inside the building at the time, and while no one was injured, flames and smoke caused significant damage to part of the store,” CPD said. “The persons of interest were observed getting out of an older model, green SUV, possibly a Chevy Tahoe or Suburban.”
If you know these suspects, you’re asked to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.
Check back for more updates.