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Burning Ambulance Sparks Car Fires On The Upper West Side

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There's new video of fires that left six cars destroyed on the Upper West Side Tuesday night.

The video shows the moments when FDNY was trying to clear the street, worried the accidental ambulance fire was going to spread to cars with flammable gas tanks.

A crew was inside a Mount Sinai ambulance responding to a call when they say the engine caught fire.

They safely got out, but the fire spread to at least six cars parked on both sides of 73rd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues.

Neighbors told CBS2's Clark Fouraker, it sounded like a bunch of explosions.

"We could hear the cars coming down popping because the gas tanks were blowing up," said Gabriel Maletta, who lives on 73rd Street.

Maletta recorded the fire on his block.

"This one right across the street you could just see it, boom, it went straight up and that's when I got a little freaked out and I decided to back down a little more towards our apartment building," recalled Maletta.

"It was full on flames shooting out and from there escalated pretty quickly," said another resident, Will Majeski.

He called 911. Majeski was one of many residents woken up around midnight when the fire started.

"Horrible smell of plastic rubber came out on my terrace because I live up at the top and I looked down and I could see this huge amount of space that was just flaming feet up in the air," said resident Carol Bolger.

None of the buildings along the block were burnt, but the fire was so large and hot it burned through an awning that was right next to the cars that were on fire.

"It was totally burned through just looked insane like apocalyptic," said Billy Striebe.

Striebe's car was parked on the street just two back from where the fire was burning.

"I just moved, so I have my entire life in the back of this car and I just got really lucky," said Striebe.

The burnt cars and ambulance have been towed. No one was injured.

The Department of Sanitation threw sand to clean oil and debris off 73rd Street and it is now back open. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

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