""It was a blazing inferno. Fire reaching up to the sky. We were sure that our neighbors were gone," said neighbor Mendy Pozin.
No one was seriously injured as all three families escaped the blaze.
The cause of the fire was ruled accidental and the result of a type of explosion. Nicor workers were on the scene trying to determine if there was a gas leak.
The fire broke out at about 6:30 a.m. in the 250- block of Melanie Lane.
An off-duty firefighter was on his way to work when he spotted the home fully engulfed by flames. The Northbrook Fire Department was on the scene about 8 minutes later. Chopper 7 HD was over the scene as the blaze spread.
Michael Matan, an uncle of the woman who owns the home where the fire started, said she told him she heard a loud pop, then saw a wall of flames.
"She heard just explosion. She was upstairs in her bedroom. Then all of the sudden she came out and the whole stairs collapsed down. She was running down, through the stairs, through the fire. Then grab her jacket. She couldn't go up front. She go in the back door, through the sliding door. Then she escape, yeah," said the uncle, Michael Matan.
The woman, whose husband was not home at the time, managed to escape relatively unharmed. Their next-door neighbors managed to get out too.
"Just a loud exploding noise ... a minute later we saw the flames coming into our house so we got out of the house," said neighbor Hung Huang, whose family escaped.
The homes in this neighborhood are about 25-30 feet apart. About a dozen fire departments responded to the call, because of how close the homes are to each other.
"Containing it was the priority because it was spreading so quickly," said Northbrook Fire chief Andy Carlson.
The home where the fire started is a total loss, fire officials said. The other two homes sustained less damage.
The American Red Cross was on hand to help the people who were displaced.