KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville Fire Department officers say they are investigating the cause of a fire in downtown Knoxville that started in the McClung warehouses early Saturday morning. That fire turned a five-story building into a tower of flames.
""There were embers you could see all the way down Broadway and Henley," KFD Captain DJ Corcoran says.
The Knoxville Fire Department responded to a two-alarm fire at the corner of Broadway and Jackson Avenue. And when they arrived early this morning, they say it was deja vu - they'd fought a similar fire at this warehouse seven years ago.
"We drew a line in the sand and started pushing the fire back to the east trying to protect these buildings," Corcoran says.
The fire spread quickly. To battle flames in three buildings - along with freezing temperatures - fire crews had to work in shifts. But this time was different.
"We learned a lot from that first fire," Corocan says. "In that first fire we had three individuals that came close to losing their life. This was a totally defensive fire from the word 'go.' On this day, our units are further back out of that collapse zone, so we feel like we're doing ok."
To ensure that everyone stayed safe - crews evacuated nearby buildings. Apartment resident John Van Dyke describes the scene: "It was a rather scary sight. Off of our balcony we saw flames shooting up in the air."
And while the cause of the fire is still unknown at this time - some nearby residents suspect people they say they've seen camping out in the warehouse - despite the city's barbed wire fence.
The McClung warehouse buildings at Jackson Avenue and Broadway were engulfed in flames that could be seen from as far away as North Hills neighborhood early Saturday morning.
Knoxville Fire Department spokesman DJ Corcoran says the fire was spitting out hot embers when crews first arrived on scene.
"There were embers you could see all the way down Broadway and Henley," he says. "Those have stopped now and you can tell we're making headway on the building."
Response teams have evacuated residents of the Southern Glass building condos at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Broadway.
Corcoran says the main body of the fire is contained but the focus has shifted to protecting the condos.
"We've drawn a line of defense on those two buildings," he says.
West Vine Ave., West Jackson Ave., and parts of South Gay St. were shut down during the fire; Jackson Avenue remains closed.
There have been no reported injuries.
Two buildings out of the five burned seven years ago. After that fire, the city installed razor wire fencing to keep the homeless out. There has been no power to any of these building prior to the 2007 fire.
The empty shell of the McClung warehouses caught fire early Saturday morning.
The warehouses, located at the corner of Broadway and Jackson Avenue in downtown Knoxville, burned in 2007.
The fire has fully engulfed the Philco building. According to fire officials, two buildings are fully engulfed in flames and a roof and at least one wall have collapsed.
Responding crews have stopped all railroad traffic running next to the warehouses.
Jackson Avenue and parts of Gay Street have been blocked off.