Columbus police headquarters and surrounding Downtown streets were brought to a standstill for five hours last night by what turned out to be an exploding battery in construction equipment. The battery, roughly the size of a truck battery, powered a hydraulic ladder that was being used for adding insulation to the interior of the building, Chief Kimberley Jacobs said early today.
Columbus police headquarters and surrounding Downtown streets were brought to a standstill for five hours last night by what turned out to be an exploding battery in construction equipment.
The battery, roughly the size of a truck battery, powered a hydraulic ladder that was being used for adding insulation to the interior of the building, Chief Kimberley Jacobs said early today. The equipment was located in a corner of the lobby.
The building was evacuated when some employees reported what sounded like an explosion shortly before 7:30 p.m.
Sgt. Rich Weiner, spokesman for the Police Division, said that several employees on the first and second floors heard the loud noise. Other employees on upper floors said they heard and felt nothing.
FBI and anti-terrorism investigators were brought in although there was no indication of an attack on the building, Weiner said.
Weiner wouldn’t say how many people were working when the noise occurred. He said the headquarters, which has eight floors with employees, plus the basement and a ninth floor for heating and air-conditioning equipment, was evacuated so the Fire Division’s bomb squad could go through the building, floor by floor and room by room, with explosives-sniffing dogs.
Bomb squad investigators gave an all-clear around 12:30 a.m., said Battalion Chief Patrick Ferguson.
Jacobs said investigators were able to pinpoint the battery as the cause of the explosion after a quick, initial search failed to find any damage.
All streets around the building were closed to traffic, including Marconi Boulevard, and parts of Long, Spring and Front streets, for five hours. The streets and building were reopened by 12:45 a.m.
“I heard a boom but I didn’t think anything of it,” said Todd Blackstone, who works as a crane operator for Capital City Group at the federal courthouse across the street.
Blackstone said he is used to hearing noises. But then Blackstone said there was a sulfur-like smell and soon a number of patrol cars and firefighters descended on the area.
About an hour after the explosion, there was some vapor-like smoke noticed coming from the roof vent, but Ferguson and Weiner didn’t have an explanation. One official reported that could indicate a mechanical problem.
Police officials said the situation didn’t affect how emergency calls were handled because the 911 operation isn’t in that building. Detectives who were evacuated worked outside, or from their cars or at substations.
Civilians weren't allowed into the Franklin County jail, as the sheriff’s office helped out by taking on some booking duties that typically are handled at police headquarters.
Dispatch Reporter Lucas Sullivan contributed to this report.