FORT LEE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters rescued several tenants after an intense blaze broke out at an apartment building in Fort Lee, New Jersey Thursday afternoon.

Authorities say the fire started around 4:10 p.m. in the basement of the five-story Linwood Park cooperative apartment complex on Edwin Avenue. 

Several residents had to be evacuated from apartments, according to officials. They could do no more than watch as their building burned for more than four hours.

“Everything I own is in there,” resident John Epperly said. “I don’t even know where to start.”

Floor by floor, the fire traveled up through each level of the building. In some cases, the floors collapsed altogether.

Firefighters disappeared beneath a blanket of white smoke while embers lit the night sky. Three of them sustained minor injuries while attempting to extinguish the blaze.

Meanwhile, residents desperately tried to grab everything that they could, packing a suitcase or an armload of belongings while flames decimated the building.

“See the way the flames is coming from the building, it’s a terrifying terrifying situation,” resident Stavros Tsioukas said.

Luckily, city officials say everyone managed to get out. Some residents who have called the complex home for decades will have to start over, but many are thankful they’ll be around to do just that.

“We’re alive, we can rebuild,” Manuel Barrantes said. “I don’t think it’s the end, maybe it’s the beginning of something else.”

Residents displaced by the fire were being taken to a senior center nearby.

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