Two businesses and two apartments have been destroyed by fire in uptown Saint John, leaving many area residents wondering about the future of the property and neighbourhood.

Fire crews responded to the fire at the corner of Waterloo and Union streets around 3 a.m. Monday. The building, which housed a pawn shop and two apartments, was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived on scene.

“Initial reports were that someone was still inside the building on the second floor,” says Joe Armstrong, deputy fire chief of the Saint John Fire Department.

“Crews did an interior search and got about three-fourths complete when they had to pull out.”

High winds fanned the fire and flames quickly spread to an adjoining building, which housed a beauty salon.

Firefighters also battled bitter temperatures and frozen fire hydrants as they tried to extinguish the flames.

“We did run into two hydrants that were actually frozen and we broke the spindles on them but there were no delays as a result of that,” says Armstrong.

The buildings were destroyed and will likely have to be demolished. Four people have been displaced by the fire but no one was injured.

Union Street has been the site of several similar fires in the past. After the damaged buildings are torn down, the properties usually remain vacant, or they are turned into parking lots.

“Buildings come down and parking lots go up, it’s just a shame,” says uptown resident Ken Landry. “It’s a great area for commerce and everything. They should actually use it for what the uptown is for.”

Gerry Lowe, the city councillor for the area, says the property would be ideal for an apartment building, if a developer could be convinced to invest in the area.

“We’ve got to get some incentives to try to encourage builders to build up in that area, I mean, the place is already full of parking lots,” says Lowe.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron