NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A brush fire was raging and threatening homes on Staten Island late Friday afternoon.

As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, the fire was nearly, but not completely, extinguished by 5 p.m. The worst of the fire in the Oakwood Beach section of Staten Island lasted about 2 1/2 hours.

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The fire was measured 3/4 mile wide and long, and threatened houses on two sides as it was pushed by the wind, Young reported.

The fire started behind some homes in Oakwood Beach, under what could be considered suspicious circumstances, Young reported. The fire marshal’s office was called to the scene.

The fire was raised to five alarms at its peak, bringing about 200 firefighters along the marsh rim neighborhoods of Staten Island’s South Shore.

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The firefighters kept the blaze at bay, and the wind turned out to be both a help and a hindrance.

“The wind was on our side – it was blowing towards the water – but then it made a swirl and it came back a bit, and thank God the firemen were here to control it; to keep it back out to sea,” said John Valenza of New Dorp Beach. “You can’t depend on the wind.”

“It looked like the wind was knocking it down and it was coming back really high, so it looked worse at times,” said Stacey Servino of New Dorp Beach.

“The fire started on the block behind us, jumped this road, and went into a deep-seated area over here. We had a hard time fighting it because of the wind,” said FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Richard Howe.

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Efforts to extinguish the fire continued late Friday afternoon.