Firefighters were mopping up Tuesday at the site where fire consumed a vacant two-story building near downtown Riverside, where transients were squatting.

The non-injury blaze erupted at about 9:30 p.m. Monday in the 2900 block of Fifth Street, near Park Avenue, according to the Riverside Fire Department.

Battalion Chief Bruce Vanderhorst said five engine crews and a truck company, numbering two dozen personnel, were sent to the two-alarm fire and encountered flames raging in half the abandoned structure, which once served as a recycling center on the city’s east side.

Several homeless people were seen fleeing the building as first responders arrived, Vanderhorst said.

“Firefighters held the fire to the building of origin but were unable to extinguish the fire due to the structural integrity being severely compromised to make access to the second floor,” he said.

The inferno continued for 40 minutes, at which point the flames were knocked down.

Images published by the fire department showed little left of the structure except brick walls.

“The cause of the fire is undetermined due to the extent of the damage,” Vanderhorst said.

The investigation is ongoing.

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