Raleigh fire crews were called out to the carpet pad recycling warehouse on South Saunders Street and Penmarc Drive around 9:20 a.m.
A man working inside the building said he was baling carpet padding near the middle of the warehouse. The man told investigators he stepped away, and when he returned, he noticed smoke.
Warehouse owner Marion Penny said the building has two tenants -- Carolina Pad Recycling and Clancy & Theys construction company. The construction company stores building supplies behind the warehouse.
Penny said he could see the smoke from the blaze 10 miles away.
"I got a call from a passer-by. When I got out here, I understand the fire had been going for about 40 minutes," he said. "It's a building I've owned for a long time, about 30 years. It's a shame to see it go."
The Raleigh Fire Department said the fire ignited quickly because of the materials inside.
Firefighters were forced to form a hand line -- first fighting the fire from outside until the thick, black smoke turned white.
"It was just so much fire, and the nature of what was burning, it was burning so fast and so hot that it was hard to extinguish," said Larry Stanford, of the Raleigh Fire Department.
No one was injured. Officials said it may be weeks before there are estimates to how much damage was caused by the fire.
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