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A vacant commercial building in downtown Hamilton has partially collapsed after a fire ripped through the space Saturday morning.

At around 6 a.m., crews were alerted about a fire at a four-storey century building at 206 King Street West.

Large volumes of smoke could be seen billowing from the building.

“We found fire on the first floor and we were starting to experience heavy and high heat. Smoke conditions were changing rapidly and due to the change in fire conditions we brought our crews out for their safety,” Fire Chief David Cunliffe told reporters at the scene.

Cunliffe said the building was previously used for health and store fixtures and contained heavy wood timber inside, which contributed to the fire’s intensity.

The building was reportedly slated to be turned into a condo building.

The fire spread to all floors and was upgraded to a third-alarm, with about 45 firefighters attending the scene at the height of the blaze.

Crews began a defensive attack and set up three aerial units to attack the blaze with large volumes of water.

“As we were fighting the fire from the side we had structural collapse. We’ve had walls on all four sides of the building come down. On the east side, it (the wall) came down on the neighboring building. No one was injured with those collapses,” Cunliffe said.

As a result of the partial collapse, large amounts of debris is scatttered across King Street.

Hamilton fire

Meanwhile, Cunliffe said a fire broke out on a condo balcony nearby at 20 George Street and is believed to have started because of embers from the building fire.

“Fire crews were very quick to respond and we got that fire out with minimal damage to the balcony.” 

No injuries to civilians or firefighters have been reported.

A nearby resident, who identified himself as Marwan, lives across from the building and said he woke up to the smell of smoke.

“I went to my balcony, I looked left and there was a huge fire at this building. I saw the police everywhere and ambulance and it was really a huge building so I don’t know how it (happened). Because of the smoke I couldn’t see anything. It was terrible,” he said.

Hamilton fire

Cunliffe said it is unknown where the fire started in the building and what caused it. 

“At this point, this fire is still deep seated. We will be on scene for the better part of the day, if not into the evening. And we continue to have structural collapse,” Cunliffe said.

Crews said smoke from the fire migrated east and across the mountain.

Residents are being advised to keep their windows closed.

The Office of the Fire Marshal is aware about the blaze but it is unknown if they will investigate.

As of Saturday afternoon, crews said the majority of the fire is out but they remain on scene putting out hot spots and cleaning up debris. 

Road closures in the area are expected to stay in place for the remainder of the day.

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