A former storefront in uptown Hillsboro collapsed Monday afternoon. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
A former storefront in uptown Hillsboro collapsed Monday afternoon. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
Part of a former storefront in uptown Hillsboro collapsed Monday afternoon.

Crews from the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, Highland County Sheriff’s Office, Hillsboro Police Department and Highland County Emergency Management Agency were called to the scene at 3:35 p.m. Monday. Pike Natural Gas and AEP also responded.

”We received a call of a building collapse on West Main,” Lt. Branden Jackman, public information officer for Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, said. “We were trying to ascertain if it was the rear or front, and obviously we turned the corner to this.”

Currently, the front portion of the building has collapsed, while the rear of the building — which includes a karate studio — appears to be intact. The West Main Street location had formerly housed a jewelry store and was recently part of an auction by Classic Real Estate/Rick Williams Auction Company.

Neighboring buildings, including Cundiff’s Flowers, Bon Appetit and Classic Real Estate, were evacuated and will be vacated until Paint Creek completes the investigation.

Crews have taped off a “collapse zone” area, marked with red tape. Pedestrians are asked to avoid entering the collapse zone area as crews determine whether more of the building – or its neighboring buildings – are likely to collapse further.

Jackman pointed to a large crack in the building above its upper-story windows and said that “we don’t know if we have a possibility of a secondary collapse, so that’s why we’re keeping everybody back.”

Crews are also working to shut off gas and electric, as well as checking for possible gas leaks to prevent possible explosions.

“We are working on securing utilities,” Jackman said. “AEP is back in the alley now securing electric.”

Although Paint Creek is “optimistic” that no injuries were sustained based on eyewitness reports and their initial investigation, Jackman said he “could not guarantee” that no one was harmed during the collapse.

A cause of the collapse was not known, although Jackman said it was likely a “structural collapse” and that the owner of a neighboring business said the building had been “making louder than normal noises” of late. The building was among one that city code enforcement inspector Anton Weissman recently marked as “condemned.”

The 100 block of West Main Street is currently closed to traffic as crews will be working to both investigate and clean up the damage from the building.

“The 100 block of West Main is going to be shut down for a while,” Jackman said. “For right now, safety is key.”

The collapse is currently under investigation. Check back to highlandcountypress.com for more updates.