SANFORD — Sanford firefighters say a fire that started this afternoon in a third-floor apartment above Shaw’s Hardware, 901 Main St., was likely caused by improper disposal of smoking materials.

Capt. Gary Cushing said firefighters found evidence of discarded smoking materials in an exit doorway leading to a fire escape in the building.

Cushing said the fire was mostly out – it was still smoldering – by the time crews arrived around 5 p.m. He said it was fortunate the fire was contained to the doorway. If it had moved into the attic area the fire could have posed a challenge to firefighters who would not have had enough space to fight the fire.

“With buildings like that, you are always concerned about the fire getting into the attic space,” Cushing said.