A dozen people had to get out of their homes in the northeast community of Taradale after a massive fire broke out early Thursday morning.

Crews believe the fire began at 51 Tarraridge Drive at around 1 a.m.

As soon as they got there, they called for a second alarm due to the intense smoke and flames.

The fire spread to three other homes before it was finally contained.

Neighbouring homes all had to be evacuated, forcing 12 people to seek shelter.

Investigators are on scene to determine the cause of the fire.

They say that two homes received extensive damage while two more suffered unknown damage.

"They had heavy flames involved in two houses," said CFD Battalion Chief Fred Rogi. "Crews did a good job to quickly knock them down."

Wayne Zacharias was with a friend whose home was adjacent to the one that caught fire. "I open the door and I see fire over his fence. We opened the gate and ran down the lane."

Zacharias says his first thought was about the residents. "I just hope they're okay."

A 60-year-old woman was transported to hospital for an unrelated heart condition.

No one else was injured.