The blaze broke out in a complex with at least six stores in the Mount Hope section. Authorities say three of the six were heavily damaged.
The fire started in a menswear store on the corner of Walton Avenue and quickly reached three alarms as it spread through two neighboring businesses.
"My living room was full of smoke, I live five blocks away, and I thought the fire was in my building," said an area resident
The fire could have been even worse had a fire ladder truck not been driving by at the time, heading for a drill. Now, fire marshals are trying to figure out the cause of the blaze as business owners struggle to pick up the pieces.
No injuries were reported.