Cause of fire at Ninth and Broad streets under investigation

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused a fire that destroyed a building off Ninth Street early Tuesday.

Investigator Neal Brown said he spent several hours at the building Tuesday but has not determined a cause.

Firefighters were called to the blaze in an old brick storage-type structure at 869 Jones Street behind Zion’s Barbershop, Brass Ring and Big Day Cakes at 12:57 a.m.

Firefighters initially thought the building was attached to the businesses and broke through a door to try to suppress the fire, but discovered the buildings were separate. None of the businesses was damaged.

Brown said the fire department has determined the building belongs to Joseph E. Smith and it was being rented to a carpenter.

Battalion Chief Frank Lanier said no one was injured and the fire took about 45 minutes to contain, but not before two of the walls collapsed, spilling loose bricks across the lot.

“When we arrived on scene, there were flames coming through the roof,” Lanier said. “It was a pretty heavy fire.”

Carlin Thompson, a nearby resident, said he and two friends noticed the blaze before fire crews arrived.

“I couldn’t tell how it started, but flames were coming through the building,” Thompson said. “We called it in but they said they had already received a call. It looked pretty serious.”

Richmond County deputies closed parts of Broad, Reynolds, Ninth and Jones streets during the fire.

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