Fire has gutted two apartment units on James Street in Syracuse.

Flames erupted at the three story building at 477 James just before 4pm Thursday afternoon and city police were forced to cordon off a couple of blocks around the scene.

Thick black smoke could be seen billowing from the building as firefighters tried to get the flames under control.

They were able to contain the fire to two units in the building and two families have been left homeless and are now being assisted by the Red Cross.

There were 30 apartments in the building and the Red Cross says it was prepared for the worst should the fire have spread and they were ready to open a shelter. Tenants who were evacuated were offered shelter in a Centro bus temporarily while firefighters poured water on the flames.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury battling the flames, but no other injuries were reported. An investigation into the cause of the fire is now underway.