An early morning grease fire on Monday has left two Charlottetown families temporarily homeless.

Firefighters were called to the two-unit building on Passmore Street shortly after 1 a.m.

The fire began in the kitchen of the upstairs apartment and was started by a pot of grease on the stove being used to cook french fries, said Winston Bryan, a fire inspector for the City of Charlottetown.

"When grease reaches a certain temperature, it will ignite," said Bryan.

"At this time, the grease itself had ignited and was proceeding up the walls and cupboard area of the home. Upon noticing it, the [residents] exited the home and called 911."

The man and woman living in the apartment and the family of three living downstairs escaped without injury.

A smoke detector on the second level had been disconnected, said Bryan.

There was heavy smoke and fire damage in the second-floor apartment and heavy water damage on the bottom level.

The Red Cross is assisting the families with accommodations.

The residents did not have rental insurance, said Bryan.