110 New Orleans Firefighters Battle 3-Alarm Blaze

NEW ORLEANS --

It took more than 110 firefighters to control a fire that burned a vacant building in the French Quarter early Thursday morning.

The New Orleans Fire Department said the three-alarm fire near Ursulines and North Rampart started shortly before 6:30 a.m. and grew quickly, with flames spreading to neighboring buildings. At least one wall of a structure collapsed.

"I opened up my door and all I saw was a big wall of smoke," said neighbor Bruce Naquin.

The flames could be seen for miles around.

"Firefighters tried an aggressive interior attack but they were forced out. We had to go to defense tactics at that moment," said Terry Hardy of the New Orleans Fire Department.

Larry Augustus woke up to the sirens and alerted all of his neighbors.

"I just went around and start knocking on my neighbor's door, waking them up so they can get their cars off the lot and get out the building," he said.

Within an hour, the fire was under control, but even after it was over, the signs of the battle could be seen on top of cars parked along Ursulines, where building debris was scattered.

No one was injured in the blaze, but neighbors are calling the fire suspicious.

"They had someone with box cutters last night, cutting the doors going into the building," Augustus said.

A sign on the charred building said it was for sale. Neighbors said the building had been unoccupied for two years.

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