By Patrick Hedlund, Serena Solomon Yepoka Yeebo and Michael Ventura
MANHATTAN — A fire ripped through three Chinatown apartment buildings, injuring more than 30 people and leaving up to 100 others homeless.
Smoke was still wafting from the six-story building at 283 Grand St. early Monday after a fire broke out about 10 p.m. Sunday and then spread to a pair of adjacent buildings sending flames up to 30 feet in the air, officials said.
"I saw smoke, black smoke," said Zeng-Jian Wang, who lives in the basement of one of the buildings, through a translator. He grabbed a duffel bag fill of clothes and his passport and ran out into the street. When he emerged, he looked up and saw the building "filled with fire."
Wai-Sing Seto, owner of the RX Plus Pharmacy in 289 Grand St., a building next to those that burned that was heavily damaged, watched as firefighters continued to douse the buildings that were still smoking by Monday afternoon.
"It doesn't look like anything's going to be salvageable," he said. "I would suspect that pretty much everything is shot."
Twenty-nine firefighters, who suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation, three civilians and one EMT worker were injured. One of the civilians was in serious condition, fire officials said.
A 93-year-old man suffered a heart attack from smoke inhalation and was taken to Beth Israel Hospital, the New York Post reported.
Grand Street, between Forsyth Street and Allen Street, and Eldridge Street, between Canal Street and Grand Street, remained closed at the start of the Monday morning rush, according to the city's Office of Emergency management.
The FDNY had not determined a cause of the seven-alarm blaze Monday morning, but it was not deemed suspicious.
The Red Cross told the Post it was helping between 80 to 100 people who were left homeless by the fire.
More than 250 firefighters and 60 emergency vehicles arrived at the scene, with hundreds of onlookers watching from the streets and nearby fire escapes.
News of the fire quickly spread through Twitter and other sites early Monday with many posting photos and video of the massive blaze online.
The fire and heavy smoke were also visible from a plane on approach to LaGuardia Airport, a DNAinfo reporter on the flight said.
A fire at another six-story building in Chinatown, on East Broadway, nearly a year ago injured seven firefighters, the New York Times reported.