Dozens of people are homeless after a massive fire destroyed an apartment building in the heart of the Glebe yesterday afternoon.

Around 1:39 p.m., handyman Randy Young was working in the basement of the large three-storey, 18-unit duplex at 114 and 116 Glebe Ave., when he smelled smoke.

When he went outside to see what it was, flames were shooting out of the second and third floors of the 114 side of the building.

After making sure all the tenants were out of the building, he called 911.

Fire trucks were on the scene by 1:43 p.m., but the fire spread quickly. By 2:30 p.m., it was a five-alarm fire. More than 75 firefighters and 27 vehicles were on the scene.

Smoke from the fire wafted east, creating a fog that spread into Sandy Hill.

Young said most of the tenants are university students. A young family with a little girl lived in the basement, he said, and a single mother with two children also lived in the building.

“The whole entire building is going to be homeless,” he said.

The Red Cross has offered residents a hotel room for three nights.

While he’s grateful for the room, Carleton University student Stefan Amyotte worried about what will happen after that.

“It doesn’t give you much time to get your life back in order,” he said. “We’re poor students. Everything we have, including textbooks is gone, but our life goes on. I need my textbooks tomorrow.”

District Chief Jim Corrigan said firefighters will be at the scene overnight to ensure the flames are completely extinguished.

Until then, they can’t begin an investigation into the cause of the fire.

The building is completely destroyed and there is a chance that neighbouring buildings would also be damaged because of the narrow laneways.