However, everyone made it out safe thanks, in part, to one man whose quick-thinking likely saved lives.
The fire was reported around 11:00 p.m. Thursday in the 1400 block of West Erie Avenue in the city's Tioga-Nicetown section.
People living there reported hearing several explosions.
"My wife and I were watching television and we heard a large blast. Sounded like a transformer exploded," said Changel Bowie, who ran outside and heard yet another explosion.
Firefighters arrived to find heavy flames tearing through a three-story home.
Chuck Terrence was working next door when he heard an explosion and ran to help.
"There was fire and everything out back. I ran over, knocked on the door, got everybody out safe," he said.
Terrence was among the twenty residents displaced by the fire. Many of those evacuated were living in a halfway house next to the home that went up in flames.
The people displaced were loaded into SEPTA buses to find shelter.
"It looked like a bad fire, but everybody's out," Terrence said. "A building can be rebuilt but you can't bring people back."
The fire was brought under control shortly before midnight, but firefighters remained on the scene until about 5:00 a.m. Friday putting out hot spots.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.