Columbus fire officials are investigating a suspicious fire that occurred at a century-old warehouse near downtown Columbus Monday morning.
Crews responded to the fire on South Front Street just before 4 a.m. Monday.
Arriving firefighters reported seeing flames shooting out of the roof of the three-story commercial building.
Crews began fighting the fire defensively, dousing the flames from above with the help of ladder trucks.
"We had fire in the rear, second, and third floors," said Battalion Chief Bill Bishop.
Fire officials say the fire started on the second floor of the building, and eventually spread to the first and third levels, causing the roof to collapse.
The fire burned for more than two hours, according to fire officials. Once the fire had been extinguished, city officials determined it was unsafe and decided the remaining shell would be torn down.
Fire officials tell NBC4 the vacant building once housed the Borcher's carpet cleaning business.
Neighboring business owners say the building was a growing problem in the area.
"It's an eyesore anyways, and we all around here have wanted it taken down, so hopefully that will be the blessing in disguise. We are just lucky it didn't blow across or get anyone around us," said Steve Smith.
Fire officials say there was evidence that homeless people had set up shop inside. Firefighters found mattresses and areas where they had been setting small fires to keep warm.
Smith said that is not a surprise to him.
"The city would come board it up every so often. [The homeless people] would just peal it away and come in; either start little fires, or just living there. There's always been mattresses and clothes and stuff," said Smith.
There were a total of 45 firefighters on scene working to put out the blaze Monday morning.
South Front Street was closed between Greenlawn and West Deshler avenues while crews battle the flames. Greenlawn Avenue and South High Street were also closed.
There was no evidence that anyone was inside the building at the time of the fire.