Firefighters responded to a fire at an old building in the Taftville section of Norwich on Monday morning.
According to officials, the structure fire was reported at 1-3 South Second Ave., which is the old Ponemah textile mill, around 5:30 a.m.
"I came down and this building was fine, so I was glad," said Bhadresh Shah, owner of H&B Package Store.
Shah said he received a call from a friend around 7 a.m. informing him that the building his store used to be in was on fire.
He rushed down to see what was happening and to check on his business, which has moved right next door.
"I'm glad I wasn't there and my business wasn't there, but I feel bad," Shah said.
The Michael's Corner Variety store is housed there, but firefighters said the fire is not in the vacant business. It couldn't open on Monday. The building was described as "mixed use."
The top two floors have been vacant for 30 years, according to firefighters.
A total of four people were forced from two apartments, which are located on the end of the building on the first floor.
Crews said part of the roof collapsed.
"Crews came in and made an aggressive interior attack in both the basement and first floor," said Chief Tim Jencks, Taftville Fire Department.
They had to pull out because the floor was weak.
Eyewitness News viewers sent in photos from the scene showing smoke billowing from the top floor windows.
Firefighters said it actually began on the first floor and extended into the second.
The fire was reported by a police officer who was in the area at the time.
Mutual aid from Taftville, Occum, Yantic, Norwich, Laurel Hill, Baltic, Jewett City and Bozrah fire departments was called.
"We've called in for extensive mutual aid for manpower so we can rotate our crews in," Jencks said.
They said it took about three hours to get under control.
Officials said there were no reported injuries.
The cause remains under investigation.
Firefighters said the same building was the scene of a fire back in 1983.
"There was a fire in the building back in '83, so the second and the third floor had been vacant ever since then," Jencks said.
The American Red Cross is helping the displaced families.
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