Cincinnati fire crews said the flames broke out around 10:30a.m. on the 3600 block of Warsaw Avenue. When fire crews arrived, massive flames and heavy smoke were shooting through the windows. Firefighters said the fire started on the first floor, and spread quickly to the second floor and attic.
Cincinnati Fire Captain Michael Washington said it took crews nearly two hours to put out the flames. Washington said several firefighters will remain on scene throughout the evening to put out hot spots.
The building holds businesses on the bottom floor and apartments above it.
Alex Omari and his two brothers own the Moviestar Wireless and Fashion store on the first floor of the building.
Omari said he drove to work to open the store just before 11 a.m. Omari said he first saw the flames after he stopped at the nearby stoplight.
On Thursday afternoon, city building crews boarded up and tore down parts of Omari's livelihood. Fire crews said the flames and gallons of water from their hoses destroyed the building.
"We've been owning this store for the past four to four and half years and I'm rally shocked," Omari said. "It really just breaks your heart. To see your living thing for the past five years just burned down you know."
Crews said nine people were also displaced from their apartments above the store. Capt. Washington said everyone got out of the building okay.
"I was actually on my way to work with a friend of mine, and we pulled around to check out P.O. box right here and as we rounded the corner I heard glass breaking," said Donald King, who said he saw the flames first shoot out of the building this morning. "I turned around to look, and next thing I know, the building was completely engulfed in flames."
Firefighters and building crews were still on the scene more than eight hours later. Captain Washington said they're concerned about the structural integrity of the building.
"I'd never seen anything like it," King said. "It scared me. So I can only imagine how the people who live there feel and how the people who own the store feel."
Crews said the damage was so extreme, they may never know what sparked the fire.
"I've been standing here on my feet since 12 o'clock to see what was going to happen and nothing happened," Omari said. "We're just going to move forward you know. That's the best I can do."
One of the other owners of the store spoke with FOX19 off camera. He said he and a third brother are both expecting babies in a few months, and now it's unclear how they'll provide for their families.