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Smokie poured out of the demolition site of Richland Mall in Forest Acres Monday afternoon after a fire broke out in one of the mall’s sections.

The fire broke out shortly after 3:30 p.m. and was caused by sparks from an area where workers were cutting metal, according to Columbia City Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins. Both lanes of Forest Drive, which runs in front of the mall, were temporarily closed while city firefighters battled the blaze. Police and Forest Acres EMS also responded.

“The fire started on the third floor of one of the buildings, but fortunately nothing collapsed,” said Jenkins. “There was a pretty obvious fire at the site and we had seven fire engines on the scene. Thankfully no workers or firefighters were injured.”

The fire was brought under control in about 30 minutes and regular traffic resumed around 5:30 p.m.

There were no signs that the fire would disrupt ongoing demolition work.

Related: Demolition marks end of mall era in Columbia Township

Demolition of the old mall began in March, paving the way for its future use as an open-air, mixed-use complex, first announced in November 2022. The $100 million redevelopment plan for the site is being carried out by Southeastern Development of Augusta, Georgia.

Southeastern officials have said demolition of the mall’s 85,000-square-foot concrete structure will take about a year.

Plans call for the future site to be a 32-acre mixed-use development with retail space, a brewery or taproom, green space, a grocery store and apartments. The city of Forest Acres also purchased six acres of land behind the mall as part of the redevelopment agreement and plans to create a large park there.

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