A stubborn four-alarm fire today heavily damaged Able Industries, an upholstering supply business in southeast Baltimore.
Firefighters fought the blaze from all four sides of the three-story brick industrial building, in the 1200 block of S. Highland Ave., and brought it under control at 12:47 p.m.
No injuries were reported. The cause was undetermined.
Parts of the north and south walls collapsed after the wooden roof burned through and beams fell into the building. There was no immediate estimate of damage.
Thirty-six pieces of equipment and 115 firefighters responded to the blaze, but their efforts were hampered by narrow alleys that made it difficult to bring large equipment close to the fire.
One fire engine that originally had driven up to the alley on the north had to retreat because of a collapsing wall and proximity to the blaze. Firefighters were forced to drag hoses up the alleys.
The fire did not reached an adjacent one-story building that houses Eastern Plating Co.
A heavy column of black smoke from the blaze was visible from downtown Baltimore. Traffic was rerouted around the scene, and a large crowd gathered to watch the fire.
The blaze apparently started on the top floor of the building, a floor that was vacant at the time, said George Falter, 56, owner of the business.
Falter said the 12-year-old company, a family business that employs six workers, has been at the location about six years. He said he has no insurance.
Marie Gleason, who works for a company situated about 50 feet from the blaze, said she first saw smoke pouring from the roof of the burning building.
She said a "complete ball of flames" shot out of building once firefighters broke through the windows.
"The roof's just completely gone," said Gleason.
In another fire today, officials said arson apparently was the cause of a two-alarm blaze that destroyed the Magic Dish Restaurant in Pasadena.
Anne Arundel County firefighters found signs of both arson and a break-in when they arrived at the family-style restaurant in the 8600 block of Fort Smallwood Road, officials said.
County police reported the fire at 5:33 a.m. A second alarm was LTC sounded seven minutes later. The fire was declared under control at 6:08 a.m.
Damage to the building and contents was estimated at $225,000.
Fire officials said the restaurant is owned by Parbiz Towhidian of Pasadena and his brother, Dr. Hamid Towhidian of Severna Park, a physician at North Arundel Hospital.
No one was hurt fighting the fire. Nine engines, two ladder trucks and one rescue squad responded. County fire and police investigators, and U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents were investigating.