On February 22, 1991, the a Twelve Alarm Fire broke out on the 22nd floor resulting in the deaths of three firemen. The fire was ultimately fought from the outside because of concerns that the building may have collapsed. The blaze didn't begin to die down until the fire reached the 30th floor and finally set off functioning sprinklers. The fire lasted nearly a full day and damaged neighboring buildings, leading to the demolition of buildings that once occupied the neighboring parking lot, including the 20 story Morris Building.An unprecedented disaster, One Meridian Plaza was the tallest building in the world to ever be destroyed by a fire at the time. The eyesore sat vacant for eight years while its owners, E/R Partners, and insurers went to war over its fate. Neighboring property values declined, Chestnut Street shops began to close, the Girard Bank tower's water damage caused most of it to sit vacant for years, and lawsuits claiming losses rained on the owners of the remains.
For nearly a decade, the charred remains of the skyscraper loomed over City Hall, depressing properties values, frustrating politicians, and embarrassing the city.Beginning in 1998, the unique deconstruction was required because of its proximity to other buildings. It was connected to the Girard Bank tower, currently the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and its scar can still be seen on the hotel's west wall. It was completely removed by 1999 where it sat as a surface parking lot until the Residences at the Ritz opened a year ago.