Between 12 and 16 people are now homeless after the inside of a three-storey, eight-unit Chinatown apartment building was heavily damaged by a fire Sunday morning.

Firefighters responded to 257 Booth St. near Elm Street around 6:30 a.m. when they confirmed smoke shooting from the building’s second floor.

All of the residents were taken out and a working fire was declared.

Firefighters spent about 15 minutes inside the building tackling the blaze, but soon they had to evacuate the building and fight the fire from outside. It was knocked down just before 9 a.m.

Booth Street fire (Nov. 17, 2013)

Firefighters responded to battle a fire on Booth Street but they soon had to leave the building due to the extensive damage. (Photo courtesy of Ottawa Fire Chief John deHooge)

One firefighter suffered minor injuries, officials said. Canadian Red Cross and Salvation Army in Ottawa responded to help the residents.

An OC Transpo bus was also dispatched to house the residents for a short time.

Four of the eight units were damaged. The cause is not yet known, but it is believed to have started in the basement, and damages are estimated at $400,000.

Booth Street remains closed between Somerset and Albert streets as officials investigate.