Residents who were forced from their homes by a five-alarm fire in Ottawa's Centretown neighbourhood are crediting firefighters for saving their lives.

Fourteen townhouse units were evacuated when fire crews responded to a 911 call to 237 Lyon Street just after 4 a.m. Monday.

"The whole top section was blowing out -- lots of flames. It was going towards the other two buildings," said Ottawa District Fire Chief Jeff Oxley.

The fire appears to have started in one of the middle units, causing an estimated $2.5 million in damages.

Residents caught by the blaze say the damages are devastating, but things could have been worse.

"We got out with whatever I've got on," said Real Charlebois, who managed to escape with his partner.

"But you know -- it's stuff. Nobody got hurt and that's what matters."

Although none of the residents were injured in the blaze, one firefighter was sent to hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion.

The fire chief told CTV Ottawa firefighters acted quickly to get the blaze under control.

"We have two things we have to do -- one is evacuate the fire building, and it takes a lot of crews. And, we have to stop the fire from the other two exposed buildings, so you have to divide up resources and crews," said Oxley. "Everything worked well."

Although many of those displaced by the fire are staying with friends, the Red Cross has stepped in to help those who may need temporary accommodation. In all, 27 people are without homes.

Insurance and structural reports still need to be completed, making it unclear if the building will be demolished.

"Some of the units are unsafe and (people) may never be able to get their belongings. Other ones, we're escorting (residents) in to get what they can," said Oxley.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem