EAST ORANGE, N.J. (PIX11) – A dozen people, making up three families, are without a place to live after a massive, four-alarm fire ripped through multiple houses in East Orange early Wednesday.

“I hear a big ‘boom,’ not once but multiple times,” said Jasmeen Moultrie, who initially thought shots were ringing out in her neighborhood. She and her family got down on the floor, until she saw what she described as red flares.

“Once I saw red flares from out of the window, I went and looked,” said Moultrie, “and when I looked, I saw that there were flames coming out from the abandoned house next door.”

Soon, a fire quickly spread across four homes in the 100 block of Amherst Street. Officials believe it started at the abandoned property. Somehow, no one was injured, but 12 people were displaced, and neighbors are shaken.

“I looked out and seen nothing but brightness, orange, and the house was engulfed,” said neighbor Tyrone Hawkins.

Ash seemed to fall like snow upon cars and sidewalks in the neighborhood. Moultrie’s family and other families are being helped by the Red Cross and were sheltered from the morning cold by a New Jersey Transit bus.

“My mom ran out with no shoes, no coat, no nothing,” said Moultrie, “my daughter running out, no shoes, no coat, my niece running out, whatever she could just grab, everybody just got out the house.”

Moultrie and several of her neighbors say they aren’t sure what’s been going on in that abandoned house, but it’s making them uneasy.

“It’s been too much going on around in this area,” said Moultrie, “especially at that house right there. It’s too much, it makes no sense. We don’t have to be sitting here, placed somewhere else.”

It took the entire city, plus mutual aid from out of town, to put the flames out.

“It was about 80 firefighters,” said David Williams, OEM Coordinator for East Orange. “Fortunately, we had no injuries to the firefighters or civilians. We got everybody out.”

Emergency officials said this is yet another example of how working smoke detectors can save lives and issued a reminder to check to see if yours are working.