COLUMBIA, Mo. -

Employees at Ernie's Diner in downtown Columbia were praised Sunday for preventing a damaging fire.

According to the Columbia Fire Department, employees started to smell smoke in the diner just before 8 a.m. Sunday.

When firefighters arrived, they climbed on the roof and found a neon sign with an electrical problem had heated up a board behind it on the building's second floor. Crews said if the board had been allowed to heat much longer, it would likely have burst into flames.

The diner had the window and board covered Sunday afternoon. The Fire Marshal estimated damage to the building at around $8,000.