A two-alarm fire displaced 12 people and caused $260,000 in damage to four row homes Wednesday in Columbia.

Fire crews responded shortly after 2 p.m. to the 600 block of South Ninth Street, just around the corner from the fire station.

A thick column of smoke was visible and flames were through the roof when the first units arrived, according to Deputy Fire Chief Denny Hershey.

He said the fire appeared to have started in a second-floor bedroom of one of the homes and spread through the row. The fire was ruled accidental but the exact cause was undetermined, Hershey said.

All four homes were condemned. The residents are being assisted by the American Red Cross and by relatives.

There were no injuries to any of the occupants. One firefighter was treated at the scene for a steam burn, Hershey said.