A four-alarm fire engulfed a Washington Avenue building early Saturday morning, which forced dozens of people out of their homes and sent seven firefighters to the hospital.
"I saw huge flames shooting out the back and the front," said Eastern Parkway resident Kriss Ramgettee as smoke billowed up the street from 816 Washington Ave., where the flames erupted just after 4:20 a.m.
The raging fire (click on the video for a vivid look at the flames) quickly moved from the third floor of the four-story building down to the deli below and then started spreading to surrounding homes and shops.
The building, which will likely have to be completely torn down for safety reasons, was mostly vacant and undergoing renovations, according to neighbors and fire officials at the scene. Residents said the building is often used by homeless people.
"I haven't seen one of these in a long time," said one FDNY chief about the size of the fire. It was not immediately clear what sparked the flames.
Over 100 firefighters flooded the area to douse the flames. Six firefighters were taken to Kings County Hospital with minor injuries, officials said.
Another firefighter was sent to the hospital after he was hit in the head by brick that crumbled down when a section of the burning building's wall collapsed on the St. Johns Place side just before 7 a.m. He was taken away on stretcher and was secured with a neck brace.
"The bricks just flew and knocked him out," one neighborhood resident said as fellow members of New York's Bravest rushed to help the downed firefighter.
"It's a bit smoked and water damaged," said Meer, who used the opportunity to give her children a quick tutorial on fire safety.
"I think this is a lesson to my kids not to play with matches...and to call 911," she said.
This is the second blaze on the block in nine days. A 21-year-old woman died in a fire just across the street at 767 Washington Avenue on May 27.