Another fire happened Tuesday in a historically black neighborhood in Columbia.
It was the 14th fire in North Columbia since April 21, according to the Columbia Police Department. Five of the fires have been ruled arson, while the police said "the others have been classified as undetermined."
The Columbia Fire Department and Columbia Police Department responded to the latest fire, which burnt the inside of a vacant home in the Booker Washington Heights neighborhood. The fire happened at 3702 High Circle, a vacant residence off West Beltline Boulevard, according to police spokesperson Jennifer Timmons.
The blaze began around 2 p.m. It was not a large fire and was under control by the time crews got there, according to CFD spokesperson Mike DeSumma.
"It wasn't long before it got put out," he said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to DeSumma. The investigation will be a joint effort between CFD and CPD, with the police taking the lead DeSumma said.
More fires have happened on the same street recently. On June 24, CPD responded to a reported burglary at 2711 High Circle. Inside, the homeowner noticed fire damage to the interior and several electronics missing, according to Timmons.
Less than a mile away on High Street a fire was reported on June 23.
Four more fires happened within a block of each other in a three month period in Booker Washington Heights. A woman was found dead by firefighters in one those fires. She died before the fire though, according to the Richland County Coroner's office.
The police said that several of the buildings where fires occurred have been vacant, and "a number of the fires have some evidentiary similarities."
Before officially saying that five of the fires were intentionally set, fire department Chief Aubrey Jenkins called some of the fires related. He said there's no other reason for the fires that happened in April, May, and June to start unless someone started them.
Last week, the City of Columbia, CPD, and CFD announced they were working with South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to investigate the fires. Recently, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) also joined the investigation.
"The departments are seeking the public’s assistance with identifying the person or persons who may be responsible or may have information regarding the fires," a joint release by Timmons and DeSumma said.
Beyond investigating, other steps have been taken to prevent the fires. The City of Columbia boarded up or re-secured all of the vacant structures in the identified areas.
That didn't stop Police Chief Skip Holbrook from appealing to the community for help.
"Even with the extensive local, state and federal investigative resources at work to investigate these fires, the public’s assistance is critical to assist law enforcement in bringing those responsible to account," Holbrook said in a news release. "Anything that is suspicious or out of the ordinary should be reported to law enforcement immediately.”
Columbia Fires Under Investigation
▪ 3521 Beaumont Avenue | April 21
▪ 3521 Beaumont Avenue | May 5
▪ 3517 Beaumont Avenue | May 5*
▪ 1915 High Street | June 5
▪ 4524 Monticello Road | June 7
▪ 3511 Beaumont Avenue | June 15*
▪ 3417 Carver Street | June 18
▪ 4913 Norman Street | June 18
▪ 1909 High Street | June 23
▪ 2711 High Circle | June 24*
▪ 5779 Ames Road | June 27*
▪ 3612 High Circle | June 27
▪ 401 Abraham Street | July 1
▪ 3702 High Circle | July 3*
* ruled arson