More than two-dozen tenants were forced to leave their apartments after a fire broke out at 737 Irvine Street in Fredericton.

The fire began around 10 p.m. Saturday in the 17-unit, three-storey building.

Tenants who lived on the first and second floors were allowed back into their apartments. As of Sunday morning, tenants who live on the third floor are being kept out due to fire, smoke and water damage in at least one unit.

Tom Stillwell is a tenant of the building and saw first-hand how serious the fire was.

“I came out of the apartment and the first thing I saw was the smoke,” he says. “I went down the hallway and saw a girl sitting outside her apartment. My neighbour came out at the same time and the girl said, ‘My apartment is on fire, my apartment is on fire!’”

The Canadian Red Cross says they set up emergency lodging and food for three men from two apartments. Other tenants stayed with family, friends and neighbours.

“I was going to go in,” Stillwell remembers. “But it depended on the fire. If it was a little fire, I’d have gone in to put it out, but it was a pretty good-sized fire.”

Stillwell says the fire could have been a lot worse if it weren’t for the speedy response of fire fighters.

Some tenants from the building's third floor are currently staying at a hotel.