MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) - Mobile fire investigators were holding a man for questioning in connection to a fire which consumed the first floor of an historic downtown building. Dispatchers sent crews to the building near the intersection of Dauphin and Broad Streets around 5:45 p.m.
Mobile Fire District Chief Frank Byrd said the flames were contained to the first floor, however, crews had to rip walls out to keep the fire from rising through the 2x4 studs to the roof.
Byrd said the building was vacant when crews got to the scene, but a witness reported seeing someone running from the building. A person matching the description given to investigators was being held. That person's identity had not been released because no official charges had been filed.
In a voicemail left late Friday night, Mobile Fire-Rescue Department Spokesperson Steve Huffman said there was "havey vagrant activity" inside the building. Byrd said earlier Friday evening there was evidence homeless people had set smaller fires previously inside the buliding either to keep warm or cook food.
Huffman said the fire resulted in $60,000 in damage. He said the 3-story building, which had once been the Protestant Children's Home, was up for sale at the time of the fire and had been for some time.