A tenant arrived at the Shields Building in downtown Meridian around 6:15 a.m. Friday to find thick smoke on the first floor.
While numerous offices were vandalized and damaged by fire and smoke, the worst damage happened in a rear office on the third floor where a fire was apparently set.
"Most of the offices here are attorneys. Of course, my private investigation business here," said tenant Kirk Merchant. "Also we have a polygraph examiner's office here, an insurance office and a hairdresser downstairs. The fire started in my office. We lost everything; computers, monitors, cameras, surveillance equipment. Anything we had in there was gone. It's been destroyed."
The Shields Building is adjacent to the Decorator Center on 20th Avenue, which was not damaged. It's protected by a fire wall.