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Fire hits building in Charleston historic area

CHARLESTON -- A fire that sent flames soaring more than 20 feet into the air heavily damaged a commercial building early Tuesday in the heart of Charleston’s historic district, not far from the Market area.

No injuries were reported in the blaze, which could be seen from Patriots Point, across the river from the downtown area of Charleston.

The fire was reported about 1 a.m. at 213 East Bay Street. That is across from the U.S. Customs House, a popular attraction for tourists. The East Bay Street building contained four restaurants and bars -- Club Light, Brick, SpeakEasy, and the Squeeze.

Firefighters found smoke and flames coming from the building when they arrived, according to broadcast reports. Crews tried entering the building but were forced to battle the blaze from aerial trucks. They also sprayed water on neighboring buildings, to prevent the blaze from spreading.

Crews from the North Charleston, James Island and Saint Andrews fire departments assisted Charleston firefighters, according to the Charleston Post & Courier.

Fire officials in Charleston confirm that the second floor of the building collapsed. They say crews were able to prevent the fire from causing major damage to neighboring buildings on East Bay Street. But residents of an adjacent apartment building told WCBD-TV in Charleston that smoke filled their hallways during the fire.

Crews remain at the scene Tuesday morning, dealing with hot spots. Investigators hope to enter the building later Tuesday morning, to determine what caused the blaze. But Charleston fire officials told reporters that they fear the building’s “structural integrity has been compromised.”

Authorities have closed that portion of East Bay Street, so an investigation can take place and for fear that part of the building could collapse.

A post on the Facebook page of The Brick, written shortly before 3 a.m., said, “We are thankful to report that our entire staff is safe. However, we ask that you send your thoughts and prayers out to all residents, first responders and businesses being affected by the fire that continues to burn on East Bay Street.”

Charleston Post & Courier and WCBD-TV contributed.

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