Newgent said no one was injured in the blaze, which burned out the roofs and upper floors of a few of the older two-story brick structures adjoined to each other. A cause for the fire wasn't immediately determined, and Newgent said the buildings were being checked to see whether any were in danger of collapsing.
Gusty winds fanned the flames, and television helicopter video showed fire and thick smoke still pouring from the rooftops more than two hours after the fire broke out.
The damaged businesses included a photography and formal wear shop, a dentist's office, furniture store and pawn shop, the Banner Graphic reported.
Dentist Perry Wainman said he was with his second patient of the day when an employee came in and told him about the fire.
"I said, ladies, get out of here," Wainman said.
Lester Wilson, whose family lived in an apartment above his photography business, fled to safety after his daughter spotted the flames through the door to their patio.
"My first thought was to grab a fire extinguisher and put it out," Wilson said. "But there was no time to do that. When I heard glass shattering, I thought, 'No, that fire extinguisher is not going to do anything.'"