The roof of a derelict cinema collapsed after a blaze ripped through the building.
The site of the old picture house in Muglet Lane, Maltby, Rotherham, became engulfed in flames at around 1.20pm yesterday.
Emergency crews closed off the roads after arriving at the scene, where the building was already well alight.
Police also attended the scene and a cordon was put in place amid fears that the roof of the hall, which had a large quantity of wood inside, would cave in.
It collapsed around three hours after the blaze is believed to have started.
Crews from six engines worked for more than five hours to put out the fire, thought to have been started deliberately.
No-one was injured in the incident and people living in nearby residential properties were warned to stay away from the scene.
Shocked eye-witnesses reported large plumes of smoke billowing over Rotherham’s skyline.
Residents took to social networking site Twitter to voice their disbelief.
One tweet read: “There’s been loads of fires in Maltby but I’ve never seen one this bad before.” Another user posted simply: “Maltby’s burning.”
Richard Price from Maltby said: “There were some people, mostly young, watching it from co-joining Morrell Street and some from Coronation Park next to the building.”
The picture house was closed down at the beginning of the 1990s and later reopened as a kitchen warehouse, but it has been empty for several years.
Bus operators diverted routes in the area of Muglet Lane as crews used an aerial ladder platform to fight the fire from above.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Muglet Lane was closed and remained so until the fire was out.
“The building is away from any residential properties.
“An investigation into the cause of the fire will take place now the incident is over.”