NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Three Bronx families have no place to call home Monday after a massive fire destroyed their houses in the Bronx.

Neighbors believe the strong winds we experienced caused it to spread so quickly.

“Been here for 20 years and to see everything go up in flames, it hurts,” said James Alvarado.

As CBS2’s John Dias reports, Alvarado can’t even distinguish what’s left inside his home on Harding Avenue near Emerson Avenue in Throggs Neck, which was destroyed by the early-morning fire.

“Everything. Everything. It hasn’t really dawned on me yet. Family photos, wedding pictures, videos,” Alvarado said.

The only thing they could salvage was his mother-in-law’s cremation urn.

While there’s a vacate sign next to his singed front door, the Throggs Neck man is trying to count his blessings, since he, his wife and dog are OK. He says that’s thanks to a later-than-normal work shift.

“I would have left the house a half an hour earlier. I don’t think my wife would still be here with us,” Alvarado said. “I was screaming. She was out cold.”

Video shows the fire engulf three homes around 1:30 a.m. Monday, leaving all families now displaced. It took 138 firefighters an hour and a half to put it out. Two suffered minor injuries, and no residents were injured.

Neighbors told Dias the fire spread so quickly because of the strong winds we experienced last night and into this morning. A fourth home was damaged.

“It was like a chain reaction almost, one house to the next and next. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen,” said Michelle Rodriguez.

“Fire was blazing throughout all the houses,” said neighbor Shabana Arjune. “I looked out the window, and I saw the houses were on fire, and the wind was blowing. I knew we had to get out right away – get all of us out of the house, grab all important documents, just get out.”

Arjune says a similar incident happened there 10 years ago, but not as bad. She shot video on her phone and says she prayed.

“It was blowing towards my house, so I was praying the fire didn’t touch my house,” she said.

As for Alvarado?

“We will rebuild and move forward,” he said.

And hope for a better year in 2021.

Fire Marshals are still trying to figure out the cause of the fire.

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