NEW YORK-- A raging seven-alarm fire, visible for miles, ripped through three buildings in Chinatown last night, injuring 14 people and leaving as many as 100 people homeless.
A 93-year-old man living in one of the buildings was taken to Beth Israel Hospital in cardiac arrest after suffering smoke inhalation.
Two other civilians, ten firefighters and one medic were also injured. Their conditions were not life-threatening, officials said.
The monster blaze broke out in the basement of a six story apartment building with business on the ground floor at 285 Grand Street near Eldridge Street shortly after 8 p.m. It quickly spread to adjacent buildings.
"There were big-time flames shooting up and you could see it from the bottom floor to the top," said Josh Weiss of Brooklyn.
"And the smoke, Oh my God! I could see it from the Williamsburg Bridge."
Saskia Vranken, 23, a tourist from London, said, "The flames were huge. Never in my life have I seen flames so big." She described the scene as "surreal."
More than 250 firefighters fought the blaze for over five hours.
"The tenants on the sixth floor ran downstairs and told us to get the hell out," said Dinine Signorello-Wong who co-owns one of the buildings.
She said all of the people who lived in her building were accounted for.
"I heard fire trucks and smelled smoke so I got my roommate and we evacuated," said Elizabeth Taylor, who lives in one of the buildings that caught fire.
"When the firefighters smashed open the second floor windows, flames came bursting out. We thought they had it under control at that point until the flames came out of the roof."
The Red Cross said it was helping 80 to 100 people left homeless.