The dramatic blaze, which resulted in the building’s partial collapse, started at 1:36 a.m. local time (12.36 a.m. ET), according to a Sao Paulo Fire Department spokesman.
The blaze is now under control, the spokesman added.
Despite an earlier message posted on the department’s official Twitter account suggesting that one person had been spotted calling for help on the building’s upper floors, the spokesman said the department does not expect any deaths or injuries.
As many as 160 firefighters in 57 vehicles responded to the massive fire at a building on the Largo do Paisandu street in the center of the city.
Chef Nadja dos Santos Freitas filmed a video of the fire from the balcony of her apartment on the nearby Avenida Ipiranga.
“The fire started at around 30 past midnight. My husband and I woke up with the noise of glass breaking,” she told CNN, adding: “Every day we pass by there and we knew that there would be a tragedy. The building was in ruins; the fire department inspected it a short time ago.”
The cause of the fire is currently unknown, according to the fire department spokesman, who added that he does not know the total number of floors in the building because of the partial collapse.