Heavy smoke and fire could be seen spewing from the building on Broadway in North Bergen.
Flames broke out shortly after 1:00 p.m. on the second floor and quickly spread through numerous stores on the first floor and into the apartments above.
The fire appears to have been caused by a space heater in a second floor apartment.
The residents of that apartment told police that the fire started in the space heater, and quickly spread through the apartment.
They evacuated as quickly as they could.
Fire marshals plan to investigate, but they haven't been able to get inside the building yet, and may not because it's in danger of collapsing.
Firefighters responded to reports of residents trapped on the upper floors.
Three firefighters and two civilians were injured.
None of the injuries are life threatening.
There were still hot spots being put out late Wednesday night. Nine families were left homeless by the blaze.
Get Eyewitness News Delivered