Fire left a large 19th-century building in rubble Thursday morning in downtown Waterville, a small town about 16 miles west of Faribault in southern Minnesota, according to a City Hall official.
The building at 128 3rd St. S. was on a block that includes businesses and residences. No injuries were reported.
There was no immediate word on what caused the fire, which was called in about 6:15 a.m.
Once the flames were doused and the smoke cleared later in the morning, the roof was gone and heavy equipment moved in.
“They are pulling down the building right now,” Jay Schneider, editor of the Lake Region Life weekly newspaper, said on Thursday afternoon.
The building dates to sometime in the late 1800s and included a handful of apartments and a ministry called Barrels of Hope that distributes goods to people in need, Schneider said.
Schneider described the two-story property as “an enormous building” that also included a coin laundry.
Over the years, it has housed a bowling alley and a furniture restoration store, Schneider added.
Cory Culbert, who owns a garden nursery nearby, said that firefighters “confined it to just that one building” but were still spraying water on the structure nearly three hours after the blaze started.
A neighboring business, the Cutting Connection hair salon, “is flooded out now” from firefighters’ hoses, Schneider added.