A raging fire engulfed several homes in New Jersey early Tuesday, sending a black plume of smoke over the Garden State that could be seen for miles.
Officials say at least three buildings were ablaze as firefighters battled the inferno on South Ninth Street in Newark.
Isaac Ezerim and his 13-year-old son scrambled for safety amid the flames.
"We just ran outside, there were firefighters, police all over the place," he said.
Julius Martin was still in his pajamas when the fire broke out just after 6 a.m. He and his 5-month-old daughter lost everything, only salvaging his keys and a laptop.
Across the street, Tina McCormick said the heat of the blaze could be felt from her home, and they grabbed their pets and ran. Their home wasn't damaged, and hours later, she and her neighbors were handing out food and supplies to the 11 adults and four children displaced by the fire.
"We are giving out socks, sneakers, food, whatever we can do. This is terrible," she said.
The fire chief said the home where the fire broke out was supposed to be vacant but squatters were likely inside at the time. Neighbors recall seeing former tenants who were evicted sneak in and out of the house.
Investigators are still looking inti the cause. One firefighter was taken to the hospital with a burn injury but is expected to be OK.