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3-alarm blaze destroys downtown building

No injuries; Remains must be demolished before street can be reopened

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Firefighters spent the night battling a massive fire at an abandoned three-story furniture warehouse early Saturday morning.

Just after midnight, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department was dispatched to the brick structure on West Forsyth Street at North Jefferson Street.

"We had heavy fire showing from the second and third floor," JFRD Chief Marty Senterfitt said. "Crews attempted to enter the floor, but we had to back them out due to the collapsed nature of the building." 

Multiple engines companies and half the city's ladder companies battled the blaze through the night, but once the roof collapsed there was no way to save the structure. 

Despite the massive fire and number of firefighters involved, there were no reports of injuries. 

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JFRD said they had adequate water supply, pulling lines from eight different hydrants.

"Right now we're trying to keep water on it so it doesn't spread to the building next to it," Senterfitt said early Sunday morning.

Other than making sure the fire is completely extinguished, firefighters' biggest concern is the unstable remains of the structure. Until the building is demolished, Forsyth Street will have to remain closed.

"We are trying to get the building bulldozed before the business week starts," according to Senterfitt.

The state fire marshal's office will join local investigators investigating the cause of the fire.

According to Metro Jacksonville, the building dates back to 1909 when it housed Benjamin Reid's Reid Brother's Moving & Storage. In the 1950s it was utilized as a warehouse by Cunningham Furniture. In the later half of the 20th century it was the home of the Davis Brothers Furniture Company.

According to property records, the building and land were purchased in 1998 by Jacksonville Historic Properties Inc. As of last year the taxable value was $254,071, but the building's value was assessed at $105,586.

Historic building destroyed by fire