NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A lightning strike sparked a massive fire that broke out in an apartment building in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens section of Flatbush Thursday morning, seriously injuring a firefighter and leaving dozens homeless.

A lighting strike hit 456 Brooklyn Ave. at 9:47 a.m. and the 7-story building on New York Avenue caught fire at 10:08 a.m., according to the FDNY.

The fire quickly grew to multiple alarms. Some 220 firefighters battled the six-alarm blaze before bringing it under control four hours later.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports

A few dozen firefighters had to be taken to nearby hospitals, one experiencing severe chest pains and smoke inhalation, CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported.

A fire rages on New York Avenue in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens section of Brooklyn on July 26, 2012. (credit: CBS 2)

At least 18 apartments are considered to be a total loss, Smith reported. The other apartments in the building have water damage.

“I was sleeping. All I heard was a loud boom. My brother woke me up and told me I needed to get out of the building –that’s when we looked outside and saw flames,” one resident told Smith.

“I know I can get my college diplomas back. Clothes and things like that just … I’m glad I’m alive and here,” said sixth-floor resident Kevin Eldermire.

The Red Cross was at the scene to help displaced families. Earlier, a Red Cross official collapsed from the heat and had to be taken off in a stretcher. He is resting comfortably now, Smith reported.

It could be several days before residents know if and when they can return.


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