A woman is recovering from a broken leg after she jumped from a second-storey window to escape a fire at a Moncton apartment building early Friday.

About 30 people, including adults and children, were forced to evacuate the 19-unit building on Clearview Street shortly after midnight.

Some made it out of the burning building with only the clothes on their backs.

“People were coming out with no shoes on, in their pajamas, because it was so late at night,” says neighbour Deanna Steeves. “Little kids with no shoes on their feet and just in their underwear.”

Woken by her cat, Sharon Capson was among those fleeing the flames. She opened her apartment door to find the hallway filled with thick, black smoke. She says she never heard a smoke alarm.

“I had to feel my way along and the only reason I knew was because I was so close to the stairs,” she says. “I knew I just had to go around the corner, down the stairs, so that’s what I did. You couldn’t see anything.”

Steeves offered her home as shelter from the -16 windchill. A young couple described to her what they saw as they ran from the fire.

“All she heard was people streaming, so she checked at her door and saw smoke and grabbed her two cats and came running out the door.”

It took 20 firefighters more than five hours to gain control of the blaze.

“Upon arrival, it was chaos for our first arriving engines,” says Deputy Fire Chief Don McCabe. “There were people hanging out the windows. The firefighters saved two people. Unfortunately, one person jumped and sustained an injury to her leg.”

The woman’s injury is serious and she may have to undergo surgery. Two other tenants were taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

Officials with the SPCA were on hand to remove animals who managed to escape, but some pets were overcome by the smoke and didn’t make it.

Investigators aren’t certain what caused the blaze, but they have determined it started in a basement apartment before spreading up the walls and across the ceiling of the third-floor apartment.

A disaster team with the Canadian Red Cross is providing support to 21 people from 11 apartments, while others are staying with family or friends.

The organization is welcoming financial donations.

“That’s how we can provide quick assistance immediately without having to go through any loops,” says Marc Belliveau of the Canadian Red Cross. “It’s there, it’s quick, and it’s easy to do.”

Some tenants didn’t have insurance.

There is no word on when they can return to sift through what’s left of their belongings.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis