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A family-run garden center in Maple Grove that has been growing plants and vegetables for more than a century was severely damaged in a three-alarm fire early Sunday.

A passerby spotted the blaze at the Lynde Greenhouse & Nursery about 3:30 a.m., and crews rushed to the scene on the 9200 block of Pineview Lane to find a heavy fire involving landscaping and gardening supplies, Maple Grove Fire Chief Tim Bush said.

It took firefighters from Maple Grove and five neighboring communities several hours to put out the blaze, and they remained on the scene until midafternoon putting out hotspots and trying to determine how the fire started, Bush said.

The greenhouse announced on Facebook that it is "temporarily closed until further notice." Derek Lynde, a fifth-generation owner, had few words to say as he surveyed the damage and processed the situation.

"This been a long day," he said Sunday afternoon.

Scores of loyal customers took to Facebook to offer their condolences and support for the nursery that has been a go-to for many over the years.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you sort through the devastating fire," wrote Jennifer Prazich Neu. "I speak for many when I say you are an important part of our community and we really want to support you."

No one was inside the buildings when they caught fire, and no injuries were reported, Bush said.

Lynde got its start in Golden Valley in about 1900 and around World War I found a niche in growing and selling flowers. The nursery moved to its current location in 1971. The original retail center opened in 1982 and did so well that a new retail space was built in 1989, according to its website.

Judy Ann La Valle of Maple Grove has been visiting Lynde for 38 years.

"Your nursery brought me so much joy," she wrote on the nursery's Facebook page. "Your geraniums and poinsettias filled my yard and home with beautiful color."

Two large complexes and several buildings used for storage and maintenance were destroyed in the fire, Bush said. The fire had an "advanced start," which allowed it to grow before crews arrived to attack it, Bush said.

The buildings did not have sprinklers or fire protection and contained plastic, fertilizer and other combustible materials that made it tough to fight the blaze, Bush said.

Crews had to fight the flames from the exterior using large water streams to gain control before moving into an offensive operation to continue extinguishing deep-seated hot spots and pockets of fire, he said.

As a result, "there was heavy damage and fire loss," he said.

The fire's cause is being investigated by the Maple Grove Fire-Rescue Department, Hennepin County Fire Investigation Team and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal's Office.

"With this much damage, that will be a slow process," Bush said.