STATESVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – An early morning fire Tuesday destroyed nearly an entire block of historic downtown Statesville.

Iredell County authorities said the blaze began near 100 South Center Street and Broad Street shortly before 2:45 a.m. and was under control as of 5:45 a.m.

Three buildings are a total loss, including the one that houses one of the downtown’s oldest businesses. City leaders say it took around 75 people and nearly three hours to contain the blaze.

“Typically, we would have people who are on their lunch break are coming into downtown,” executive director of the Downtown Statesville Development Corporation Brittany Marlow said.

Downtown Statesville is where it all comes together.

On Tuesday, hundreds gathered in the streets and outside businesses for another purpose.

“Today it is more so just to be here and see what is going on and give support,” Marlow said.

Bakery owner Emily Noland was one of several business owners to wake up on Tuesday morning to the news of a fire.

“A mess to wake up to. Frightening. Horrifying,” Noland said.

Four hours, flames spread from one historic building to another, missing hers by about 300 feet.

“I am not worried about our business; we are just trying to give coffee and support to the responders that are out here,” Noland said. “Help the businesspeople that were affected who have been out here all night long.”

The owner of GG’s, Gloria Hager, was not fortunate.

Flames destroyed her gift shop, considered one of the oldest businesses in the downtown area.

“I am sure that it is a total loss because the roof is gone, has caved in, and it is full of water,” Hager said. “I do not think anything inside can be salvaged, but the building can be saved for sure.”

Marlow said three businesses had been destroyed, including GG’s, Theater Statesville, and Merrill Lynch.

“To see her business be destroyed like that is heartbreaking,” Marlow said.

Nearly 20 other businesses could not return to the office Tuesday for safety concerns.

“The great part about it is that we see the community that we have that once again brings us together, and we know that other people will step up,” Marlow said. “I’ve already had conversations about where we could possibly help some of these businesses find new locations within downtown.”

The SBI, ATF, and local/state fire marshalls are still investigating the fire.

Officials say no one was injured.