A fire that ripped through a Waterboro strip mall Sunday morning heavily damaged three businesses in the York County town.

The blaze broke out about 10 a.m. at the Brookfield Place plaza at 1009 Main St., forcing officials to shut down the street, which is also Route 202, and sending up plumes of heavy, dark smoke. The fire was spotted by employees who noticed flames in the eaves between two of the businesses.

The plaza, built in the 1980s, is home to Plummer’s Ace Hardware, a Family Dollar store and Asian Taste. The businesses were open when the fire broke out, except for the restaurant.

It took firefighters from a dozen departments about 90 minutes to contain the blaze. They pulled racks of propane tanks from the hardware store to keep the fuel away from the flames.

Firefighters were still hosing down the embers in the afternoon and didn’t leave the scene until around 7:30 p.m. Main Street was opened to traffic earlier in the evening.

By then, the roofs on all of the businesses had collapsed and the structure’s rear walls had been destroyed.

No one was injured in the fire, but one firefighter was transported to a hospital for treatment of possible heat exhaustion.

Fire Chief Matthew Bors said it was not clear where the fire started or what caused it. The state Fire Marshal’s Office was on the scene Sunday afternoon trying to answer those questions.

The Department of Environmental Protection also was on the scene to assess what, if any, hazardous substances might have been released.

Last winter, Plummer’s Ace Hardware and Asian Taste were temporarily shut down by the Waterboro health inspector’s office because of a rat infestation.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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