UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. – A house fire spread to neighboring residences in University City early Tuesday evening, prompting a response from multiple departments.

The University City Fire Department received a call just before 6:10 p.m. for a two-alarm fire in the 6500 block of Etzel Avenue. Authorities were initially told two homes were ablaze.

Nettie Yates, who lives near the homes, walked outside her home to see a plume of black smoke. She watched as the houses right next to hers burned in flames. But there was only one thing on her mind.

“Did anybody call the firetruck?” she said.

After six attempted calls, the fire department responded.

Units from the St. Louis City and Maplewood fire departments arrived to assist in extinguishing the spreading blaze and check for any potential rescues.

A neighbor said one of the homes was newly built and no one was living there at the time of the fire.

The immensity of the flames even caused a shortage of water.

“We ran out of water pretty fast until we got to a hydrant,” Battalion Captain Rob Cage, University City Fire Department, said.

The fire began inside the kitchen of the middle of the three houses. It took firefighters an hour and a half to tame the flames.

Neighbors tell FOX 2 that a mother and her eight children live in the house where the fire started.

Capt. Cage confirmed several juveniles were inside the residence when the fire began. Three children suffered smoke inhalation. Only one, an 8-month-old, had to be taken to a local hospital.

Cage said the fire spread rapidly due to the way the houses were built.

“Construction of it is a wood frame with a tar-and-vinyl siding,” he said. In the meantime, his primary concerns are the infant’s recovery and the hope that the family can find another roof over their heads.

“We’re gonna give her clothes, a toothbrush, soap, and let her know where her resources are,” Nettie Yates’ granddaughter said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.