People seen leaving scene of fire just before blaze erupted
POLICE confirmed people were seen leaving a vacant building in the Ipswich CBD before a fire broke out.
A crime scene has been established at the gutted Brisbane St premises, which hasn't been occupied in a decade.
Investigations are continuing but Ipswich Inspector Keith McDonald said the building is "known for squatters".
"A number of persons were seen to leave the building a short time prior to the fire taking hold," he said.
Police declared an emergency situation under the Public Safety Preservation Act at noon on Thursday and emergency services evacuated nearby businesses and residences while traffic was diverted from the vicinity.
The fire was extinguished in a little over an hour and no adjacent buildings were impacted.
Insp McDonald said the PSPA was put in place due to strong winds and a child safety service building next door to the fire.
"There was obviously the threat of fire spreading to other buildings," he said.
"Smoke was effecting people in other buildings as well. We're hopeful to establish the cause of the fire quickly.
"It was extremely hot (on Thursday) and very trying conditions for people, particularly for emergency services who were there and those doing traffic control of surrounding streets. We did bring the CBD to a standstill but the most important thing was people's safety."