A fire inside a residential brownstone on the Upper West Side near Central Park challenged firefighters for hours as they tried to put it out Thursday evening, officials said.
The fire began in a construction area on the second floor of the building at 23 West 76th St., the FDNY said. It quickly spread through the open bay into the walls, and then continued to travel up through the walls and pipes to the top floor.
"It was a difficult fire to get ahead of," said FDNY Chief James Esposito.
There are 22 residential units in the building, according to the Red Cross. Everyone was able to get out safely.
Monica Buccheri said neighbors alerted one other as smoke started filling up the hallways.
"The next thing you know, people were banging on doors," she said, adding that she was forced to retreat to her terrace because she could not breathe through the smoke to get out.
"It was hard to get downstairs at first so we took to the window and did a lot of praying," she said.
Residents reported seeing smoke fill the entire block.
"I went into my friend's building down the street, and her lobby smells like smoke," said one resident.
Superintendent Jose Castro said he was "shocked."
"When you see this happen to a building you take care of, it's sad," he said.
Six firefighters reported minor injuries.
-- Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.