The blaze broke out at about 2:45 Wednesday morning, in the rear of the Trinidad Tire Center on the 5000 block of Torresdale Avenue.
When firefighters arrived they found flames spitting out of the store and reaching two nearby houses.
In quick succession, the fire went to two, then three alarms.
Everyone in the houses managed to get out safely.
The Red Cross has set up a temporary shelter at the Harding Middle School at Torresdale Avenue and Wakeling Street.
While the shelter was being set up residents sat in a SEPTA bus to get out of the freezing temperatures.
So far, there's no word on what caused the fire.