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Dark smoke from a fire in downtown Sacramento could be seen from miles away Thursday evening.

The fire started around 6:39 p.m. in a commercial building at 1414 E Street, home to the Sacramento Theatrical Lighting Annex.

By the time firefighters got to the scene, flames were exploding through the roof of the business. Crews cut a hole in a metal door on the south-side of the building to attack the flames from the ground. Firefighters blasted the fire from above using hoses attached to ladders on trucks.

"When the firefighters went in they had a roof collapse, so we backed out," Sacramento Fire Department Assistant Chief Niko King said.

Firefighters were able to save three adjacent businesses and a Victorian home beside the buildings.

Bystanders crowded close as they watched firefighters work. They had to be urged back by crews as the fire threatened to spread.

King said the fire was of "suspicious origin." He said investigators are not ruling out the possibility that this fire may be linked to three house fires in East Sacramento earlier Thursday. King said this fire appeared to have started near an alley, which is similar to how the house fires started.

"To have four fires within just a small block of a few hours, all within a small geographic area, our investigators are going to do an extremely thorough job," King said.

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Steve Hansen, the city council member for the district, called the fire "very suspicious."

"This is an important thing. We have somebody starting these fires. We need to catch them," he said.

The cause of this fire is under investigation. No injuries were reported.

King said about 85 firefighters responded to the 2-alarm fire, including 10 engines, six trucks, three medic units and eight chief officers.

Sacramento resident Theresa Arciniega, who lives across the street, said she was thrilled firefighters were able to contain the flames.

"I'm deeply touched and I can't thank them enough," Arciniega said. "They just don't get paid enough."

Crews are expected to stay at the scene through the night as they work to completely extinguish the flames and mop up the area.

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