Just before 2 a.m., about a dozen fire crews were called to the Winding Creek Condominiums behind Raeford Road, less than two miles northeast of Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.
Flames burned for hours as crews tried to control the blaze that eventually spanned eight units.
About 16 adults and seven children lost their homes. No one was hurt. Two dogs and one cat also made it out safely.
Resident Jennifer DiMarco told ABC11 WTVD she got the call at work.
"My sister-in-law called me up and told me your house is on fire," she recalled. "When I got here, the flames were spreading."
DiMarco said her children got out okay.
Ironically, she had recently purchased a fire ladder so her children could climb down from the second story home. But, she said they didn't have to use it because it appears the fire started in the back of the building and they were able to get out the front door.
DiMarco said smoke detectors in the home helped get everyone out safely.
The American Red Cross has been called into help with residents.
Investigators said the cause of the fire wasn't immediately clear.