It happened at the old Gholson Hotel, which had been converted to be a retirement center for low-income elderly. Officials say fire broke out in a second story room, setting off the building's sprinkler system and filling other floors with smoke.
No one was hurt, despite their frail health and impaired mobility. One person did go to the hospital to be checked out, but that may have been do to the anxiety of the afternoon.
The state fire marshal's office will begin the investigation into the cause of the fire Wednesday.
Residents have either been moved to a nearby nursing home or will be staying with relatives.