UPDATE: An investigation is underway in Marion County into what caused an early morning fire.

Smoke could be seen from the interstate during the Thursday morning commute as crews worked to put out the blaze on Battlecreek Road.

A bulldozer ripped off the front of the nearly 50-year-old building, known most recently for helping those in the area find work.

Fire ravaged both floors by the time firefighters got to the Regional Skills Center Thursday morning, leading investigators to believe it burned for hours before someone noticed and called 911.

A group of students gathered in the parking lot down the hill and watched crews work.

"My buddy Paul, he called me and said 'Hey you need to get down here, the schools on fire' and I said 'What?'" Brandon Hookey said.

They take electrical and welding classes in the building behind the one that burned.

"I was thinking, you know, did we hook up the AC circuits and everything alright? Ha. I was worried about that," Hookey added.

Firefighters were not able to save the Regional Skills Center, but they were able to keep the fire spreading to the building where Hookey takes classes.

Which could be the silver lining, if you talk to Marion County Mayor David Jackson.

"You have oxygen settling bottles over there, quite a bit of expensive equipment over there. Welders and other equipment they use in industrial maintenance. It would have been a bigger loss as far as equipment and stuff if the fire had reached that building," he said.

Jackson said the American Job Center and the Adult Education Center were already set to move into another building soon. They'll set up shop in a temporary location in the meantime.

Classes in the other building are set to resume Monday.


PREVIOUS STORY: Several fire crews were called to an early morning business fire in Kimball Thursday.

The building is the old Chattanooga State facility on Battlecreek Road. The Regional Skills Center housed job training and adult education classes.

A second building behind it houses welding classes and was not damaged in the fire.

Heavy machinery was being brought in to tear down the building and put out more hot spots.

The building is being partially demolished to extinguish the fire and appears to be a total loss.

No injuries are being reported at this time.