The six-alarm fire that ravaged a commercial building on Canal Street early Wednesday had been burning for more than an hour and a half before crews learned about it, New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell said, pointing to a lack of alarms in the older structure that could have proved far more devastating.

No injuries were reported in the early morning blaze, but at least four businesses were destroyed before firefighters could extinguish the flames.

McConnell told reporters that neither the building at 1018 Canal nor its neighboring structures had alarms or fire-suppression systems. In commercial buildings particularly, McConnell added, “having an alarm system that would have reported this in its incipient phase would have made a huge difference for these buildings.”

Instead, the chief said, “We got a call from somebody who saw it from the street.”

“The key here was that the fire was well advanced before we were ever notified,” the chief said. “That was really the problem with fighting a fire in a structure like this.”

“Unfortunately, it went and burned for over an hour and a half before we got on the scene, before we got the call,” McConnell said. “To me, if you’re a business owner and you’re not putting an alarm in that’s going to report the fire and get it to us early, you’re putting your livelihood at risk. I would encourage everybody to have it.”

Calls to the owner of the structure were not immediately returned. The building is owned by controversial t-shirt king Kishore "Mike" Motwani, according to Orleans Parish assessor records.

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