NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Residents of an Upper West Side brownstone were forced into the cold Thursday night while an extra-alarm fire ripped through their building.

As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the FDNY said the fire broke out around 6:30 p.m. at 23 W. 76th St., and was later raised to three alarms.

Fire crews were still trying to get the fire under control several hours later.

The building is on a residential block between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, and just a block south of the American Museum of Natural History campus.

As of 9 p.m., much of Columbus Avenue near the scene was still blocked off with fire trucks.

Thick smoke poured out of the burning building as firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control. It was believed that the fire started on the second floor.

Neighbors watched as residents of the five-story building were evacuated – one woman, Monica Buccheri, was seen carrying her cat. The terrified cat had to be placed on a stretcher to calm down.

It was a scary evening for all of the residents.

Buccheri described her experience while her neighbor, a man named Tony, held her cat.

“I could smell smoke, and I said, ‘Tony, I can smell smoke,’ and he said, ‘Really?’” she said. “And the next thing you know, people were banging on the doors, and we opened the door and the hallway was filled with smoke.”

Tony said all his guitars were destroyed in the fire. Another neighbor, Niko Koutsogiannis, said his apartment was filled with smoke too.

“Me and my girlfriend — we were sleeping in the bedroom, and then I started hearing something, but yu know, we didn’t think of anything,” he said. “And then I smelled smoke, so I came out of the bedroom, and our apartment had smoke in it.”

The fire was brought under control around 8:45 p.m. Twelve firefighters suffered minor injuries, officials said.

A total of 170 firefighters battled the blaze, 1010 WINS reported.

As of 9 p.m., the cause of the fire was still unknown.

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