Officers raced to the aid of residents after a blaze broke out in flats just yards from Preston Police Station.
Police led a number of occupants to safety from a converted pub as firefighters sped to the scene in Lancaster Road North last night.
Several of the residents were said to be "reluctant" to leave the building and had to be ushered out by officers as the fire raged in a first floor flat.
Three fire crews from Preston and Bamber Bridge managed to bring the blaze under control and were at the scene for more than three hours.
One flat was seriously damaged and two others were badly affected by smoke.
One person needed treatment for smoke inhalation.
Several of the residents had to be found emergency accommodation because of the state of their homes.
"We got the call just after 10pm last night and people were reported to be still in the building," said crew manager John Leach of Preston Fire Station.
"We were told that some were unwilling or reluctant to leave their flats and were refusing to come out.
"But by the time we got there the police had ushered everyone out and there was no-one trapped.
"There was quite a serious fire going on in one first floor flat.
"At the moment we are treating it as an accidental electrical fault in a fridge. There was quite serious damage to one flat and smoke damage to a couple of others.
"Residents had to be found emergency accommodation because their flats were unfit to return to and the electricity had been switched off."
The building used to be the Royal Lancaster pub and later the Coconut Grove. It became office accommodation and is now converted into individual flats.