A fire at the Walmart on Harbison Boulevard caused “significant” damage, estimated in the millions, and likely closed the store for several days, according to fire officials.
The fire is considered “arson,” according to a news release from the Columbia Police Department.
The fire happened around 3 a.m. at the Walmart store that sits just off Harbison Boulevard near Interstate 26, Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins told The State. When crews arrived, they found heavy smoke inside the store and flames on one of the food aisles.
About two-dozen employees and customers who had been in the store made it out safely, Jenkins said.
The store’s sprinkler system activated and kept the fire in check, Jenkins said. Still, the fire, which investigators believe started in one of the food aisles, caused “significant” damage to the store and its inventory.
The fire department tweeted the blaze “caused millions in damages to inventory inside.” Jenkins told The State he estimated the fire was responsible for at least $3 million in damages.
“The store is probably closed for the next several days,” Jenkins said. “They have to go through inventory and all that stuff.”
Walmart apologized for closing, and will announce when it will reopen on the store’s Facebook page.
In spite of the fire, a Walmart spokesperson said the store’s pharmacy is open for normal business hours, according to WACH.
“We’re glad no customers or associates were injured and everyone was able to safely exit the store,” the spokesman said, according to the TV station.
The cause of the blaze is being investigated by the fire department.