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Crews battle three-alarm fire at Sydney Hih building

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MILWAUKEE -- Fire crews were called to the scene of a three-alarm fire at the vacant, partially-demolished Sydney Hih building in downtown Milwaukee early Friday morning.

Officials say they received a call around 12:39 a.m. and were on the scene within minutes. Fire officials say upon arrival they noticed heavy fire on the roof and fourth floor of the building.

Officials say the fire broke out on the fourth floor, which created concern over how to get the ladder trucks up to the top of the aged, partially-demolished building. Fire officials say five ladder trucks were utilized -- spraying more than 1,000 gallons of water on the roof per minute.

Photographer Andre Lewis said, "I saw a lot of flames, a lot of smoke, a bunch of ladder trucks spraying a lot of water." Lewis shot photos from a nearby parking garage moments after it started.

Officials say 90 firefighters were called to the scene to help battle the blaze and the fire was under control by 3 a.m.The Assistant Fire Chief gives credit to the swift action of the crews on the scene and the police assisting.

"What we were faced with here was an aged building, a building that was in various states of despair. Putting firefighters in a building like that in an advanced fire is obviously a hazard. So the difficulty for us was getting the water where it needed to be, which in this case was through our elevated mass streams in our water tower," Milwaukee Assistant Fire Chief Dan Liski said.

The Sydney Hih building was built in 1840 and was used as a venue for small businesses, musical acts and bands. Last month, the city voted to have the building torn down and was in the process of being demolished when Friday's fire broke out. Because the building was in the process of being demolished it had no electricity nor gas.

Milwaukee resident Davee says, "It's not the greatest architecturally, it's not one of the brand new skyscraper, it's something that's been closer to the heart of Milwaukee, and the soul than it is to the currency."

Officials say no one was inside the building when the fire broke out and no injuries were reported.

Fire investigators are still trying to determine a cause for the fire and there is some concern that the structure may have weakened due to the fire damage.

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.