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Fire ravages historic Babcock Building in South Carolina

Fire destroyed an iconic landmark visible from much of Columbia, South Carolina, Saturday morning.

A three alarm blaze ravaged the 1857 Babcock Building near downtown Columbia, fire officials told The State newspaper. The building was slated to be converted into a luxury housing development.

The state-owned building’s signature dome crumpled as the fire raged, sending embers flying through the air, injuring one of the 50 firefighters who battled the fire.

The dome was visible from many parts of the city and from the nearby interstate highway, and was used in marketing materials for the Bullstreet District development being built in the former mental hospital. The restoration of the 254,022-square-foot property was the keystone of the development being built on the 181-acre campus, which closed in 1996.

Fire engulfed all three floors of the vacant building and gutted the interior, according to Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins.

The cause of the blaze will be investigated by multiple agencies. The building was on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This hurts,” Mayor Steve Benjamin said. “The beautiful red dome of the Babcock Building has been an iconic part of Columbia’s cityscape for a century and a half.”


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