13 months after Babcock fire, investigation details remain slim

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 6:35 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It’s been more than a year since one of Columbia’s most visible landmarks went down in flames.

The Sept. 12, 2020 fire at the Babcock Building brought down the structures’ iconic dome.

13 months later, details on what caused the fire are slim.


Initial reports describe a patrolling police officer finding the fire around 6:30 a.m. when they saw a dense layer of fog.

When they arrived, firefighters discovered flames coming from the basement of the building.

The fire ultimately needed 50 firefighters,14 trucks, and 10 hours to be put out.

CPD released images of persons of interest, but those individuals have since been cleared.

On Oct. 6, WIS submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the city of Columbia, requesting Columbia Police and Columbia Fire documents relating to the investigation.

On Oct. 15, the city denied the request. Its email response stated:

“The City of Columbia Police Department is still investigating this matter. As such, there are no documents that can be turned over at this time.

The City of Columbia Attorney’s office has determined that all documents responsive to your request including, but not limited to, incident reports, audio, and video information fall under the “exemption from disclosure” found in S.C. Code Sec. 30-4-40(a)(3).

The City continues to carefully review all such information in furtherance of its investigative duties to ensure all prospective law enforcement proceedings are free from interference. Once all law enforcement proceedings are completed, the public information will become available.”

It’s unclear when proceedings will be completed.

WIS also reached out to SLED and ATF about the fire.

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