MERRILLVILLE | A portion of the Brugos Automotive building at 401 W. 73rd Ave. collapsed early Wednesday.
Merrillville Fire Marshal Phil Topor said there is a "good-size hole" in a wall of an apartment on the second level of the structure.
The hole is about 10 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide, Topor said.
Firefighters were dispatched to the scene about 1 a.m.
Employees at the business believe strong winds brought the wall down.
Amy Seeley, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Romeoville, Ill., said she had no reports of strong winds around the time of the collapse, but it's possible the area received heavy winds at that time.
Topor said he hadn't determined an official cause of the collapse Wednesday afternoon, but he also thinks "it's quite possible" weather played a role.
Dawn Brugos, an owner of Brugos Automotive, said there were no people inside the building when the wall fell.
A cat and a fish were unharmed, she said.
Power was shut off to the building after the collapse. Brugos said she anticipates the business will be closed until at least Wednesday, but she hopes to begin operating again as soon as possible.
She said clearance is needed from an inspector before the business can open.
Brugos said the wall collapse reminded her of a 1996 incident in which a person drove a bulldozer into the business.
The crash shattered structural supports and damaged two vehicles that were in the shop.
"We'll get through this, too," Brugos said.