LAWRENCE (CBS) – Firefighters battled a blaze at the Merrimac Paper Company building on South Canal Street in Lawrence Monday evening.

The roof caved in and the walls buckled after the fire burned for hours. It is unclear how the fire started or if anyone was in the building at the time.

“It’s a building that we’ve marked for no firefighter entry so we went for an exterior attack,” said Lawrence Deputy Fire Chief John Marsh.

The building has been vacant for years, and has been the site of three fires in the past five years.

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera called it a “problem property.”

“I know that it’s changed hands a bunch of times,” Rivera said, “we’re not collecting property taxes on it right now.”

The current owner of the building was on scene and is cooperating with officials.

“It was going to be apartments supposedly at one point, it’s been many different promises,” Deputy Chief Marsh said. “But it just sits here vacant.”

City leaders will meet on Tuesday to decide what to do with the property.

Crews from several neighboring communities assisted the Lawrence Fire Department. Smoke from the five-alarm fire affected traffic on I-495 and Route 28.

Fire at Merrimac Paper Co. in Lawrence. (WBZ-TV photo)

Fire at Merrimac Paper Co. in Lawrence. (WBZ-TV photo)

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