The FDNY says 90 families are displaced and more than a dozen firefighters have been injured after flames tore through two apartment buildings in Queens.
Several other people were injured, too, though none of the injuries are considered life-threatening.
More than 350 firefighters and EMS personnel responded to the 8-alarm blaze.
Fire officials say the blaze began on the 6th floor of 89-07 34th Ave at around 1 p.m. Tuesday and then spread to building B of the 133 unit apartment building at 89-11 34th Ave.
Ten-year-old Keyla Cardenas was on the floor below where the fire started and was alerted to the situation by a neighbor. She grabbed her dog Hatchi before fleeing the building.
“I asked a lady what’s happening, ‘Why are you going down?’” Keyla said. “She told me, ‘There’s a fire.’ So I grabbed my dog and called my mom because, and that was the only thing, because I was home alone.”
On the streets outside, amid hundreds of onlookers from the neighborhood and hundreds of firefighters, she found a family member, but couldn’t help but wonder what will happen next.
“I feel kinda nervous and sad because. That was the only house we had and now we don’t know where to go,” Keyla said.
A number of residents narrowly escaped with their own lives, but wouldn’t leave without their pets in tow. Kimberly and her mother were on the same floor where the fire started.
“We were on our way out when, I don’t know if it was the roof that collapsed,” said Kimberly. “I got scared. I started screaming, my mom started screaming. We just grabbed the pets and we just headed out.”
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro’s initial report on how the fire spread supports Kimberly’s account.
“The fire advanced quickly into what we call the cockloft, the area between the ceiling and the roof. Those fires tend to spread rapidly. This did engulf the entire cockloft of a building,” explained Nigro.
The smoke also spread and caused hazy conditions for several blocks near the scene.
Community members did their part to help set up a pick up area where donations could be dropped off and picked up, and residents could get a bite to eat.
“I try to put myself in their shoes and I think — I never thought twice,” said Anna Moyano, a neighbor who helped distribute the aid. “Shame on us if we didn’t do anything. That’s what neighbors are for, to be here and help one another.”
It means the world to those who have lost everything they own.
“I’ve been crying the whole day,” said Joselyn Rojas, who lied on the 6th floor. “It’s like really sad. You never think you’re going to lose everything out of no where and that you have to start all over, especially if you are an immigrant and have no family here. It’s hard.”