A blaze which ripped through a landmark row of shops in Mexborough was started accidentally, believe investigators.
The town came to a standstill on Friday afternoon as firefighters battled to contain a blaze within the Montagu Arcade building on Bank Street.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue told the Times investigators have ruled out foul play.
He said: “The blaze was started accidentally. There is some building work going on in the premises but the exact cause has not been established at this time.”
The road was cordoned off, while people were evacuated from shops and the nearby Montagu Arms pub when the fire broke out about 2pm.
About 20 firefighters from stations in Wath, Rotherham and Canklow, spent around two hours tackling the fire.
Mum-of-five Julie Bradshaw, 40, of Maple Road, Mexborough, a bar worker at the Montagu Arms, said: “It was quite dramatic to see. The flames were coming out the top of the building.
“We were evacuated out for a few hours. People have said you could see the smoke for miles.”
The part of the building which went up in flames was said to be the roof space above two empty shops. Smoke also spread to other parts of the premises.
The building itself dates back more than 100 years and community leaders said they were sad to see it in such a state of disrepair.
Margaret Roper, 67, of Clayfield Close, Mexborough, chairperson of Mexborough and District Heritage Society, said: “It is a very well known building in the town and has been there for more than 100 years.
“I remember when it had a supermarket there and other shops. It’s a shame to see it in such a state.”
Accountant David Tiptaft, of Blyth, owner of Tiptaft Smith and Co, which was based in the building for 25 years before a recent move, said: “It is a great shame when something like this happens. The building has been in a dilapidated state for some years. I just hope it has a future for the benefit of businesses in that part of the town.”
The building was sold after an auction by Mark Jenkinson and Sons in the summer, but the auctioneer would not reveal the identity of the owner this week.
Councillor Joe Blackham, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, enforcement and trading services at Doncaster Council, said: “A council surveyor has been working with the owner of the building who has made the structure safe.
“We understand that repair work will be taking place immediately following discussion with the council’s built environment team.”