Some residents snapped photos of the quick moving flames fed by the wooden decks, siding, propane tanks from barbeque grills and other combustibles.
"I'm estimating the damage right now at about $1.5-million," Atlantic City Fire Marshall Mike Ruley said.
One occupant whose unit was damaged is an Atlantic City firefighter who helped in the evacuation effort.
The city doesn't have a fire boat, so initially firefighters could only battle the blaze from one side; eventually, they got attack lines to the back, but residents believe it cost valuable time.
It took nearly three hours to control the fire. One firefighter actually fell into the bay while battling the flames, fortunately, other firefighters got him out and he was not injured.
The Red Cross is assisting displaced residents.