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A fire destroys an abandoned building in Cornwall's historic Cotton Mill district Sunday. ((Courtesy ryetallica/YouTube))

A massive fire destroyed an abandoned building Sunday night in the historic Cotton Mill district of Cornwall, Ont.

Crews were forced to put up a barricade around the old mill because remaining parts of the building were unstable and could collapse at any time.

The structure, abandoned for years and damaged, had been slated for demolition next month, but because of the fire, the process will now begin as early as this week.

The fire is believed to have broken out around 8 p.m. in the four-storey building in the city's east end.

It was contained by 11 p.m., fire officials said, though hot spots continued to simmer through the morning.

"It could have been far, far more dangerous," Cornwall Mayor Bob Kilger said. Low winds enabled firefighters to quickly contain the blaze, stopping it from spreading to a high-density residential neighbourhood across the street or to nearby radio studios and a legal clinic.

"Higher winds could have caused us a far greater challenge and far greater loss," Kilger added.

Nobody was injured in the fire.

Part of industrial history

Crews were still cleaning up the area Monday.

No hazardous or chemical materials were stored in the building, and the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office has decided not to investigate the cause of the blaze.

The building used to house the Canada Cotton Co. mill, which made uniforms for U.S. soldiers during the Second World War and, before that, was one of the first industrial plants to install light bulbs designed by American inventor Thomas Edison.

The cotton mill shut down in the early 1960s and other than a few small businesses, the site stayed mostly empty in the ensuing years, said Paul Fitzpatrick, Cornwall's chief administrative officer.

Earlier this month, approval was given to convert the district's buildings into condominiums with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.