Four people were inside the offices of Gainesville Bookkeeping when they discovered smoke at about 10:30 a.m.
"I was in there with two clients when I smelled smoke," said Jo Weatherly, who purchased the bookkeeping business in November. "I went into the hall and opened a door, and thick, black smoke came pouring out from upstairs."
Russel Geer, whose wife, Anida, owns the building, was in his office.
"I saw and smelled smoke and got out," he said.
Geer and Weatherly waited inside Riverside Pharmacy next door. The pharmacy, which is just a few feet away from the bookkeeping business, was never in danger and remained open.
Weatherly was excited when firefighters were able to find a disk containing the accounting information for her clients.
"Oh my gosh," Weatherly said. "I back up my computers every night. I knew this would happen someday."
By 11 a.m., firefighters had contained the fire, which appeared to have spread throughout the main level and basement of the brick house where the business was located.
Gainesville Interim Fire Chief Jon Canada said units from three of the city’s fire stations responded to the fire and were able to contain it within the exterior walls of the building.
He said the interior of the older building was made of wood and easily ignited.
Canada said the fire marshal was investigating, and the cause of the fire may not be known for a few days.
Ronnie Green Parkway was closed for about an hour from the Gainesville Civic Center to just past Green’s Grocery.