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Fire tears through historic Atlanta Krispy Kreme on Ponce

It left significant damage to the backside of the structure.

ATLANTA — A fire left behind significant damage to an iconic Atlanta structure overnight Wednesday.

The historic Krispy Kreme on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Midtown was left heavily damaged by a fire that videos and pictures showed engulfed the back part of the building, sending flames high into the air.

Atlanta Fire Rescue confirmed two employees were inside the building when the fire broke out and escaped.

"A fast moving fire gutted the building this morning just before 1 a.m.," the fire agency said in a tweet.

11Alive's Joe Ripley reported the back overhang of the building is gutted and the menu is melted, among the damage.

Officials said the fire started in the back right of the building. Photos from the scene showed the gutted backside of the building:

This historic location opened more than 60 years ago, opening the same year as Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in 1965. It was one of the first Krispy Kremes established outside the young company's main bases of operation in Winston-Salem, N.C. and Nashville.

Basketball legend and media personality Shaquille O'Neal bought the store in 2016. Shaq told 11Alive's Francesca Amiker in a statement: "I hope no one was hurt and we will bounce back better than ever."

RELATED: Shaq buys Krispy Kreme on Ponce... because he loves doughnuts

Jack Farmer, a marketing executive representing the Ponce Krispy Kreme, released a statement which said there was no clear timetable for a return. 

"We are working with authorities to assess the damage and are uncertain at this point how long the shop will be closed," the statement said. "However, we plan to reopen the shop as soon as possible. In the meantime, our Ponce team members will continue to receive full pay while we identify and offer them roles at other area Krispy Kreme shops."

The store has long been a fixture in the fabric of Atlanta life - when thousands of mourners came to the city for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral in April 1968, the Krispy Kreme donated 150 dozen donuts to local churches who were trying to keep the people fed.

Around the city, Atlantans mourned the damage done to a site where many locals have fond memories.

Atlanta Fire crews were called to the scene just after 12:30 a.m.

Battalion Chief Douglas Hatcher said the fire started in the back of the building, but crews were able to save a majority of the building.

No injuries have been reported, and the cause of the fire is under investigation. 

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.