Locals saw flames leaping from the windows of the penthouse of an eight-storey building in York Street at around 11.20pm.
Thick smoke swirled from the roof of the apartment and the entire length of York Street, between Argyle Street and Broomielaw, was sealed while the crews from six fire engines attended the scene as well as a police van and a mobile fire service base.
The affected residents were still prevented from returning home this morning and office workers were unable to access their places of work in the immediate area.
One 39-year-old resident, who lived on the top floor next to the most badly affected flat, said the fire looked "spectacular", last night.
He said: "It was close to midnight, maybe about 11.30pm, and I was just going to bed.
"I think the people in the flat where the blaze started raised the alarm, notifying every other apartment, knocking on doors and ringing bells.
"The fire engines were here in around five to 10 minutes and I just got dressed and walked out."
The resident, who had lived in the flat with his wife for 10 months, said he was evacuated into the car park before being moved to the Premier Inn.
Some of the residents stayed in the Premier Inn in Argyle Street, while others called family and friends to stay with.
He added: "I wasn't sure what was going on because I couldn't see any flames or smoke.
"I didn't realise there was a such an extensive fire until we got outside and look up and saw the flames.
"Everybody got out easily enough and everyone in the building opposite was looking out."
More than 40 firefighters from Cowcaddens, Calton and Maryhill Community Fire Stations attended the blaze after members of the public reported that the building was on fire.
A fire crew arrived to find the sixth, seventh and eighth floors engulfed in flames.
A further five fire tenders and additional specialist appliances were immediately called to the scene, while firefighters in breathing apparatus searched the properties.
One woman was rescued from the building after suffering slight smoke inhalation.
All other residents in the block were accounted for.
Crews battled through the night to bring the fire under control before conducting the salvage operation in affected flats.
The Incident Research and Investigation Section of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue is investigating the cause of the blaze, which remains as yet unknown.
This morning, firemen could be seen walking along the balcony of the burned-out and blackened penthouse section of the block and a council recovery vehicle removed a blue car which was parked on the street outside.
The windows of the top floor apartments were blown out and there was debris on the street below which appeared to have fallen from the metal guttering which had become warped and blackened.
Another man who let one of the flats on the fourth floor of the building, said he was concerned about water damage.
He said: "We know the residents have been evacuated but they haven't been in touch.
"I am a bit concerned because it is all girls in the flat."
Workers from 4 Atlantic Quay – the building that neighbours the flats – were this morning milling around the cordon waiting for permission to go into their offices.
Stuart Frankland, 48, from Dennistoun, works for Balfour Beatty and is based in the building, and said he had arrived at 7.45am.
He said: "I didn't notice the damage at first, I was looking at street level."
A local shopkeeper said when she arrived at work at around 5am there was no sign of flames or smoke.
Officer Lewis Ramsay, the incident commander, said: "Initial crews worked tirelessly in extreme conditions to extinguish this fire and minimise smoke and water damage.
"I would urge members of the public to note the importance of home fire safety.
"It is vital that every household should have smoke alarms, which should be checked regularly to make sure they are working properly.
"Strathclyde Fire & Rescue offers free home fire safety visits to all households.
"This includes the fitting of smoke and heat detectors where required."