NATICK, MASS. (WHDH) - A century-old building in downtown Natick that houses a cluster of small businesses was torn to the ground Monday after a raging, eight-alarm blaze consumed the structure.

Three firefighters were hospitalized after crews from 16 area departments battled the blaze, which erupted just before 1:30 a.m. in a large, one-story structure at the intersection of East Central and South Main streets, officials said.

Nancy Kelly, the owner of a dance studio in the building, said she was in shock as she watched her beloved business go up in flames.

“We’ll find a spot. I have kids that love me and I love them and we’ll find another spot if that one isn’t useable,” Kelly told 7NEWS at the scene.

Another owner said, “I’m lost for words … We just have to keep our fingers crossed.”

Black smoke that could be seen for miles and heavy fire billowed from the historic building for hours, causing the roof to collapse.

“The roof started to collapse and it kept the fire down, so the fire was burning underneath the roof and aerials couldn’t get to the fire,” Natick Deputy Fire Chief Daniel Dow said at the scene.

Dow says firefighters had to frequently rotate in and out of the building due to the extreme heat.

“Around 80 degrees and heavy humidity, that’s why we went to so many alarms,” he said. “These guys had to operate on air the whole time. The caused us to go through a lot of air bottles quickly. Once they go through the air bottles, we send them to rehab and bring another crew in.”

All three of the firefighters suffered minor injuries and have since been released from the hospital.

Video from Sky7 HD showed immense devastation and piles of charred rubble as crews continued to monitor hotspots through the lunchtime hour.

The entire building was deemed a total loss. Most of it had been torn down by late afternoon.

Police are urging motorists to avoid the area through the evening commute.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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