The helmet of a late BC Wildfire Management Branch Fire Warden is held by his daughter during the Canadian Fallen Firefighters memorial in Ottawa
The helmet of BC Wildfire Management Branch Fire Warden George Jones is held by his daughter Jennifer Jones during the Canadian Fallen Firefighters memorial in Ottawa September 14, 2014. Jones died in a fire in 2013. REUTERS/Blair Gable

Fire-fighters rushed to 5426 Portland Place at around 8 o'clock in the morning. Nobody was in the building when the fire started. However, the building which houses RCR Hospitality Group, Ravensberg College and National Art has a number of negatives by Wallace R. MacAskill, according to National Art General Manager Claire Facey. Those originals by the Nova Scotia photographer were kept in a safe at the store, CBC News reported.

Facey said that there were other artworks in the building that had been waiting to be framed. He said that the entire building had collapsed. He said that he was not sure if the safe would be found. They lost their entire inventory but the good point was that they had been insured.

Most of the flames were under control by 12:45 pm but the lower part of the building still had small seed fires, according to CTV News. The smaller fire, covered by the fallen walls and roof of the building, is burning underneath. However, the Halifax Fire Department confirmed that the nearby buildings were not under threat any more. The building under fire is located behind the Staples Store.

Elizabeth Newman of RCR Hospitality called it "an unbelievable day." "RCR has always been in this building, as has National Art. It's just been an unbelievable day," said the vice president of sales and marketing, "All of our files, all of our computers are in this office. She said that the number of files were "mammoth." She also said that they would have to do "a lot of regrouping" to find out the next steps. All the important files were in the server, she said.

At least 22 houses were evacuated at Cogswell Street and Portland Place. According to Fire Commander Scott Shaffner, the fire was "successful" in destroying the building. "The fire won. The building has been completely gutted. The roof has been collapsed," he said, "We have no idea of the amount of chemicals that are present in the smoke ... it can be really uncomfortable in time. I would really recommend everybody get out of the smoke if you're in."

Contact the writer: