NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Dozens of people are without homes right before the holidays after a fire tore through their building in Queens.
Residents watched in devastation and disbelief as their Richmond Hill apartments went up in flames early Thursday morning.
"I feel like screaming, crying," Indira Sukhram told CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis.
Sukhram was awake when the fire broke out around 1 a.m. on the first floor of the two-story building on Jamaica Avenue. She heard a noise and rushed out, but left behind everything she owns, including her two cats.
"I thought maybe we'd go in and salvage something, get something back. Everything is covered, everything is burned, everything is destroyed. It's terrible," she said. "Like a homeless person with nothing."
Fortunately, her family and the other residents are safe. They boarded an MTA bus to avoid the bitter cold until the Red Cross found them a place to stay. They're among about 40 people displaced, but none hurt.
"I'm pleased we're all alive. That's the most important," said Aliou Dialo.
More than 200 firefighters and EMS members responded to the fire, which took nearly three hours to extinguish.
The FDNY said the flames quickly spread to at least five other buildings, damaging a doctor's office, barber shop and more.
"These businesses are going to be displaced. The entire row right now is inhabitable," Battalion Chief Jim Carney said at the scene.
Investigators could be seen going in and out of one store at 109-25 Jamaica Avenue, where the inside was charred.
Dr. Bhupinder Singh, who owns the building next door, rents the upstairs to residents and the downstairs to a doctor.
"I'm really devastated... I feel bad for the patients, actually, who's going to not be able to be seen by the doctors here, and also the people who live here, they have no home now," he told CBS2.
Business owners and residents are left to pick up the pieces in the middle of a pandemic and right before the holidays.
Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.
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