Burkett’s Auto Body Shop on Warm Springs Road in Columbus, GA, was destroyed by fire May 28. Most of the vehicles around the business in both the front and back were damaged.
Deputy Chief Thomas Streeter said a car was being repaired and fuel that poured out was ignited by a spark.
Shortly before 5 p.m., fire officials responded to Burkett’s Auto Body Shop after a spilled fuel tank ignited, officials said. Seven trucks were sent to the blaze. Firefighters battled the fire for over an hour from the ground and from above, using two ladder trucks. Witnesses reported hearing the sound of gunshots as materials inside the shop heated up and exploded. Officials say the noise was likely tires popping.
When firefighters arrived, “It was totally engulfed,” said Deputy Chief Robert Futrell.
At 5:15 p.m., the firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control. The building was a total loss, Futrell said.
One man was taken to the hospital with a sprained ankle.
Although Sherwood Apartments on Howard Avenue were evacuated, Streeter said none of the buildings nearby were damaged.
Someone living above the business was injured and transported to The Medical Center.
James Johnson, who owns 1st Class Car Salon on Linwood Blvd., was passing by Burkett’s when he heard someone yelling for help.
“I saw a man and he was screaming ‘help, help, help.’ I kept telling him to jump but he wouldn’t,” Johnson said. “Others were telling him to jump. I told him to get a mattress and throw it out the window. After he did that, he jumped. He hurt his leg, but, thank God, he got out.”
Arson officials are investigating to determine exactly what made the spilled fuel ignite.