Spectacular fire injures dozens on NYC's Staten Island

Scene of fire in two homes on New York City borough of Staten Island on June 5, 2014; dozens were hurt, including many firefighters

CBS News

Last Updated Jun 5, 2014 8:29 AM EDT

NEW YORK -- Two young children were tossed out a window from a burning building into the arms of neighbors below after a fire broke out Thursday in the Staten Island borough of New York City, injuring more than 30 people, authorities and witnesses told CBS New York station WCBS-TV.

About 200 firefighters responded to the fire that broke out about 1 a.m. The five-alarm blaze quickly spread through three two-story townhouses.

Anthony DiSimone was on the sidewalk with his fiancee, Darleen Cerzosie, when he said parents screamed from a second-floor window thick with smoke to catch their two young children.

"I saw this guy needed help," he WCBS-TV. "If I was up there with a child, he would have done the same for me, so you really don't think too much. You just act."

DiSimone said he caught one child while Cerzosie caught the other. The kids, believed to be 5 and 3, were treated by emergency officials and seemed to be OK but shaken up, he said.

"They were fine, but of course they are going to take the kids to the hospital just to look them over," DiSimone told CBS New York station WINS-AM.

In all, the FDNY says 23 firefighters and 11 civilians suffered injuries ranging from minor to serious. Nearly all were taken to the hospital, but none of the injuries is considered life-threatening.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.