AUGUSTA — More than a dozen stores in the Marketplace in Augusta were evacuated for about a half-hour Tuesday morning as firefighters worked to stop a fire that was burning propane tanks near the American Eagle Outfitters business.

Customers were asked to leave all stores between American Eagle and the Paper Store as firefighters responded to a report that propane could be smelled in the parking lot near Home Depot, said Jason Farris, a battalion chief in the Augusta Fire Department.

When firefighters arrived at the 1,000-gallon propane tanks, at the opposite end of the shopping plaza from Home Depot, they discovered 4-foot flames shooting out of the tanks’ pressure valves, Farris said.

Firefighters were able to shut off the valves, which stopped propane from flowing, Farris said. They also extinguished a fire that had started on plastic pipes attached to the tank farm and dug a trench through nearby snow to allow leaked propane to flow away from the fire.

Home Depot was not evacuated, but many other businesses in the shopping plaza were, including Eddie Bauer, Old Navy, Bath & Body Works, Famous Footwear and Kay Jewelers.

“That’s a lot of stores,” Farris said.

The smell of propane was reported at 9:11 a.m. By 9:33 a.m., firefighters reportedly knocked the fire down, according to emergency dispatch reports. Around 9:37 a.m., customers were allowed back into the stores.

Once workers from Dead River Co. arrived at the tank farm, firefighters were able to leave the scene, Farris said. No one was injured in the response.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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