PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (NEWS CENTER) - One of the largest fires to hit downtown Portsmouth in recent memory forced the collapse of three buildings.

The fire destroyed several apartments, displacing 17 tenants. It also gutted a well known bar and restaurant, The State Street Saloon.

Departments from 44 communities responded, with more than 100 firefighters battling the flames.

When Dan Hayes woke to the sounds of fire alarms he didn’t think the fire was that bad. There was very little smoke that he could see.

“Then it just got more and more and more. Eventually there were flames and at one point, before the building collapsed, flames were shooting way above the top of the building up there", he said.

As firefighter battled the flames, three buildings connected to each other collapsed, including the State Street Saloon, a bar and restaurant that was a favorite of the locals.

“It’s stunning, it’s sad. Gonna be a while to process. If you look around at all the new buildings. That’s old Portsmouth and we treasure that. It’s going to be a big loss”, said resident Bill Downey.

As bad as the fire was, the chief says it could have been a lot worse. Only one person was suffered minor injuries.

“I can say right now, all occupants are accounted for. Makes it a lot easier for us today", said Chief Steve Achilles.

The chief says it appears the fire started at the rear of the building, near the Saloon’s kitchen. The exact cause is not known. Investigators from the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s office have been called in to assist..