MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Dozens of people have been left homeless after a fire ripped through several homes in Mount Vernon Saturday night.

CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported the flames gutted the homes on South Terrace Avenue and left three firefighters injured. Forty-three people lost their homes in the fire officials deemed suspicious.

“We had to kick off the door because the door was stuck, and I had to grab the kids and everybody and get out,” resident Anastasia Edwards said.

Edwards had to run out of the burning home without shoes on.

“No clothes, nothing,” she said.

Flames jumped from the house at 21 Terrace Avenue to the two homes next door around 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Firefighters from four neighboring towns rushed to the scene to help tend to those inside and contain the flames, which took over four hours to extinguish.

Residents said the apartments inside were overloaded.

“Our apartment inside is 14 people,” Edwards said.

“This is why Mount Vernon has an aggressive attack on quality of life,” Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas said. “Illegal rooming houses, illegal subdivisions and homes create life-safety issues for our fire, police, as well as the families that live in these illegal units.”

Investigators said the close proximity helped the fast-moving flames spread. Fire officials have returned to the scene to go through the charred remains to look for clues.

“The fire is suspicious at this time and it’s under investigation,” Police Chief Tom Duffy said.

One neighbor, who didn’t wish to show his face, said a recently evicted tenant threatened to burn the home down.

“His exact words were ‘I’m gonna burn this house down. It’s illegal what they did to me, they put me out,'” the neighbor said.

The Red Cross has put those affected by the fire up at the Mount Vernon Armory.

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