The first phase of bringing down an old hotel has begun. Crews have removed a section of the entranceway into the Northern Lights Hotel.

Fire inspector James Gray said work will begin shortly inside the building as crews take out asbestos and other dangerous materials.

Gray said the operation could take several months before it’s considered safe to begin demolition.

The building has sat mostly empty for more than a decade. In January, Gray and other city inspectors found signs of people squatting in the building, but the owners of the building have since stepped up security to ensure it remains empty during the demolition.

KTVA 11’s Lauren Maxwell can be reached via email or on Twitter.