Columbia major fire investigations continue

Columbia fire investigators continue to look for clues in the causes of 2 recent major fires.

Fires that destroyed a student apartment complex and a strip mall remain under investigation.

Fire officials said the damage was so severe at both locations that they may never find any answers.

The fire that destroyed a Columbia shopping plaza during the early morning hours of April Fools Day caused at least $4 million in damage. Investigators said the cause of the fire is undetermined. The owners of Oâ??Reilly Auto Parts moved to a new location on Business Loop 70 and hope their old neighbors also find a way to get back to business as usual.

Store Manager Kevin Schnepf said, â??It seems like Jim next door is doing really well. Most of the displaced workers from Dollar General are out working in other stores, as well. Itâ??s good to see that everybody stayed at work.â??

Columbia fire investigators are still interviewing witnesses to the fire that destroyed some student apartments over the Memorial Day weekend. The fire at the Brookside Manor Apartment Complex on the corner of College and Walnut caused about $7 million in damage. The complex was still under construction at the time of the fire.

Fire investigators said the fires at Brookside and the Business Loop Shopping Plaza were so intense they have little hope of finding the cause of both fires.

Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Sapp said, â??Weâ??ve wrapped down on the Loop 70 fire. Weâ??ve determined an area of origin. Weâ??re doubtful, because of the destruction, that we will ever come up with a cause, whereas on Brookside, weâ??re still doing a lot of investigating for that fire.â??

Sapp said the good news is that no one was hurt in either of the fires that remain under investigation.

Fire investigators have ruled out foul play as the cause of the Loop 70 fire.