A discarded cigarette butt ignited a fire May 1 that forced the closure of Dollar General, 5156 E. Main St. in Whitehall.

Whitehall fire Chief Preston Moore said he hopes the incident will serve as a reminder that a simple careless act can cause extensive property damage or, worse, an injury or death.

No civilians or firefighters were injured in the fire May 1, Moore said.

"Everyone was safely and quickly evacuated," he said.

Whitehall firefighters, along with those from the Columbus Division of Fire, Defense Supply Center Columbus and other agencies, responded to the fire shortly after 4 p.m. May 1.

A cigarette butt started a small fire in a mulch bed just outside the front doors of the store, Moore said.

The fire was hot enough to damage plastic gas lines. Once gas leaked, the blaze got inside the walls of the Dollar General store and burned insulation, Moore said.

It took about 45 minutes to contain the fire, he said.

Moore estimated structural damage to the building will total at least $20,000, but could not quantify damage to merchandise inside the store.

The Dollar General store and two adjacent businesses to the immediate east, Salon Lofts and Appliance Parts Center, were evacuated.

The Dollar General remained closed May 4; the other businesses reopened sooner.

A firewall between the Dollar General and the other two businesses limited the fire's effect to only minor smoke damage, Moore said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

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