NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Nearly 90 people have been forced out of their homes after a massive fire ripped through multiple row houses in the Bronx.
The fire broke out just before midnight Friday on Valentine Avenue and East 180th Street in the Tremont section of the borough. The fire quickly escalated and spread to seven other two- and three-story buildings.
"My landlady knocked on the door screaming 'Fire! Fire!' I ran out, grabbed my phone, no asthma pump, no glasses, nothing," resident Cecile Beadle told CBS2's Janelle Burrell.
"I see them going in my building, when they open up the door, I see all the smoke coming out," resident Thomas Williams told WCBS 880's Stephanie Colombini.
"I heard some pounding on the door so I jumped up I noticed that the building was on fire," resident Harold Ivey told Burrell.
"I thank God we're alive," resident Mercedes Guillermo, who lived in of the buildings that was destroyed, told 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria.
It took about 200 firefighters to bring the fire under control. It was contained at 3:04 a.m.
"One of the problems with the wood frame buildings is that it's purely combustible," FDNY Chief Edward Ferier said. "So everything burns -- the furniture, the roofing."
Battalion Chief Jim Manning called it "a spectacular fire."
"Because of the building construction," he said. "They have non-fire blockings in the attics, so it makes for a spectacular fire once they start."
A fire department spokesman said 89 people have been displaced by the blaze. Officials said six firefighters and three civilians were treated for minor injuries.
"I feel so bad cause it's almost Christmas and people lost houses and everything -- it's really sad," said resident Haro Palmi.
The Red Cross is helping residents with temporary housing, food, water, blankets and clothing.
A reception center has also been opened for families at the local Salvation Army at 2121 Washington Avenue. So far, the Red Cross says 40 people have registered for assistance.
Health officials advised area residents to keep their windows closed and stay indoors if possible due to acrid smoke from the fire.
Inspectors from the Buildings Department are on scene trying to determine whether the buildings will have to come down, Burrell reported.
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