NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Three firefighters and four police officers were among the 15 people injured in a 5-alarm fire that tore through a Staten Island apartment building early Sunday morning.
Officials say the fire broke on the fourth floor of 255 Mill Road 4 a.m. Flames engulfed fire escapes as the blaze quickly spread to the fifth and sixth floors.
"The fire went to a fifth alarm," FDNY Chief of Department James Leonard said. "Approximately 250 firefighters and EMT's and about 50 units responded. The members did an aggressive interior attack and kept the fire from spreading further than it did."
It too responding units almost two hours to bring the blaze under control. In total, fifteen people were hurt, including three firefighters and four police officers.
Officials say the police officers suffered smoke inhalation. Two of the firefighters were more seriously hurt by a combination of heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, but their conditions have since improved. Eight civilians also suffered minor injuries.
The building suffered extensive damage, but the blaze left some parts able to be reoccupied. Residents started returning to their apartments as the morning went on.
Some described what they saw as the flames broke out.
"It was around 4:30 I saw some smoke coming through the window and I heard noise outside and I thought 'oh my gosh, what's going on?'," Violetta Bartolome tells CBS2's Ali Bauman. "Then my husband called and said get out, so I rushed out with the girls."
Hours after the fire, CBS2 found Magdalena Cordero crying outside, after she admitted to leaving a lit candle in her apartment on the fourth floor while getting the laundry downstairs.
"I was washing my clothes and I heard an explosion, and my little kitten must have knocked down my candle, and the candle hit the fluid from the AC, and my daughter said it blew out the window," Cordero said.
Cordero's two children escaped from the apartment. But they are now one of six families without a home.
"I am so grateful that they're fine," she said. "I'm just not grateful I don't have a roof over their head now."
Cordero said all of her belongings in her apartment were destroyed, and all she has left are the blankets she was taking out of the dryer at the time.
Most of the 15 people injured suffered smoke inhalation. Two of the firefighters were also treated for heat exhaustion.
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