WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Residents of an apartment complex in Wayne, New Jersey were forced from their homes after a three-alarm fire broke out Monday morning.

The quick-moving blaze erupted in the attic and tore through the top of the three-story building 10 at the Brittany Chase Condominium complex on Brittany Drive shortly after 11 a.m.

People, who thought they were in for a lazy afternoon, were startled by firemen knocking on their doors. Ruth Coppola was among the residents who lost everything and is still numb from the incident.

“The firemen were banging on the door and I did not hear the alarm go off. It did go off, but I don’t hear,” Coppola told CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman. “He took me right by the arm — couldn’t pick up my bag or anything — and he said ‘out you go,’ and they walked me outside.”

People who talked to Guzman said they didn’t realize the full extent of the damage until they came outside to witness the scene.

John and Irene Turner were among those ordered out. They too, like their friends, lost years of memories and their homes

“It seems like there was some kind of a short or something like that in the electrical system,” John Turner said.

Police Captain James Clarke told 1010 WINS that all 24 units at the complex were either damaged or destroyed in the fire.

“We got two phone calls from the residents indicating there was smoke coming in from their AC units — from the vents,” Clarke said. “And we ended up getting a third call from the alarm company itself — a general alarm.”

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports: No Serious Injuries to Firefighters, Residents

A firefighter fell approximately eight feet from the third to second story when the floor collapsed, Clarke said. The firefighter was unharmed and returned to fighting the fire.

Five Wayne fire companies and six other mutual aid towns are assisting in battling the blaze. The cause of the fire is under investigation.