CANTON Fire ripped through part of The Mountain at Old Mill Marketplace shopping center in Canton on Saturday morning, damaging multiple buildings.

Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said around 20 commercial or residential structures were damaged in the early morning fire that was first reported by a police officer on routine patrol shortly before 4 a.m.

Evacuations began immediately.

'This is a place of business, and some livelihoods have been lost,' said Canton Mayor Rick Lawrence.

Lawrence said roughly 25 people were evacuated from the buildings and there were no injuries to report. He praised the fast work and quick thinking of area firefighters to keep the blaze contained to 10 percent of the heavily-wooded property.

'My aggressiveness is to draw lines in the dirt and say, 'This is where we're going to stop this,'' Fire Chief Bud Sanford said.

Store owner Susan Matassa received a phone call in the early morning hours and made the drive to The Mountain to see if her shop had survived.

'I could see the sky above Canton was completely orange, and it scared me to death,' she said.

Debbie Reaves, the owner of The Mountain, fielded calls all day about the fire. People wanted to know which stores were in the path of the flames.

The timing of this fire couldn't have come at a worse time. Friday night was the first night of The Mountain's holiday hayrides.

Reaves said store owners are 'Mountain strong,' and will be in rebuilding mode as soon as possible.

'They will spring back, but we have a mess to clean up right now,' she said.

The Mountain features a series of 'Old West' shops and a variety of vendors. It also has a bed and breakfast on the wooded site at 542 Highway 64.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The adjacent Old Mill Marketplace was not damaged.

According to its website, The Mountain is separate from, but operates in concert with Canton's First Monday Trade Days, a sprawling swap meet that runs for one weekend monthly at a different location in Canton. The next scheduled event is November 28-December 1.

Canton is 56 miles east of Dallas.

WFAA photojournalist Robert Flagg in Canton contributed to this report.


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