THE geographical scars are long-healed, but memories of the Reid's fire burn on in many Ipswich residents to this day.

In the early hours of August 17, 1985, the heart of Ipswich was violently ablaze, causing a void in the CBD that many regarded as the beginning of the end of the city's heart.

Originally known as the Cribb and Foote department store, after Benjamin Cribb, it developed into one of Queensland's biggest trading firms.

It was the place everyone in Ipswich went to shop, students used it as an after-school meeting place and almost 200 people worked there.

The Reid's department store had stood proudly for 130 years before fire destroyed it on that fateful morning, about 1.30am.

Former fire fighter Athol Harding was one of the first on the scene - having been called in while off-duty to try to fight the blaze.

Mr Harding, who was a station officer at Ipswich fire station at the time, still holds onto a copy of a Channel 7 video, which runs for just over an hour.

The video shows fires igniting in several points around the building, with the whole structure erupting in a matter of minutes, eventually leading to a complete collapse.

Arson was suspected early in the investigation.

Four people were found guilty of lighting the fire that destroyed Reid's, but were later acquitted on appeal.