A four-alarm fire extensively damaged several businesses and offices at Rolling Road Plaza in the 1100 block of N. Rolling Road at Powers Lane in the Catonsville area early today.
The fire began in an office on the second floor of the L-shaped shopping plaza and quickly spread to adjoining offices. The blaze was reported shortly before 2:30 a.m.
Morning rush-hour traffic was detoured from the scene as firefighters mopped up the debris and attempted to learn the cause of the fire.
"It took out several doctors' offices and businesses like that on the second floor," said Capt. Patrick Kelly, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Fire Department.
As flames spread and went through the roof, heavy smoke enveloped businesses on the lower level, which also received extensive water damage.
At the height of the fire, a section of the second-floor roof in the middle of the upper section caved in, sending embers into the air. No injuries were reported, however.
Captain Kelly said the fire was first spotted by a Woodlawn District police officer on patrol. At least 180 firefighters from at least 20 fire stations throughout Baltimore County battled the flames from all sides of the shopping plaza, he said.
He said their efforts prevented the flames from entering a Fair Lanes bowling establishment on one end of the plaza and a Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. store on the other.
A county police officer said that had the fire gotten into the Firestone building it would have set off fuel and oil and the gas tanks of vehicles and caused major problems.
First reported at 2:27 a.m., the fire went to two alarms at 3:16 a.m. At 3:19 a.m., the third alarm was pulled. The fourth and final alarm was pulled at 3:47 a.m. The fire was declared contained at 4:53 a.m. and under control at 4:55 a.m.
A damage estimate was not immediately available.
As county fire stations responded to the blaze, units from the city and Carroll and Howard counties were dispatched to fill in at those stations in case other fires occurred.