"We had 140 firefighters on the scene, very chaotic conditions when they got here in the middle of the night, people hanging out of the window?," said FDNY Commissioner Salvator Cassano.
Guatemalan immigrant Louisa Ordones was one of those people inside, desperate to save her two children.
Her baby girl is only 2 months old.
With the front door blocked by fire, and the fire escapes blocked by furniture, Ordones had to do the unthinkable, throwing them out the window to save their lives.
Her brother, Andrew was visibly still in shock as he stared at the building.
"My sister, she can't come out, I think she's lying in the apartment," said Andrew Lopez, the victim's brother.
Firefighters recovered Luisa's body and the bodies of 4 men inside.
The fire commissioner hinted that that this may become a murder investigation because of where the fire began.
"It's very likely that this was an incendiary fire, because of all the conditions that we found, the position of the fire at the front door, we don't have fires start at the front door of a building," explained Cassano.
Meanwhile, they say the living conditions inside the building were a recipe for disaster.
There were no smoke detectors, the roof eventually collapsed, and about 20 residents were crammed in just 2 apartments.
Luisa's husband and 2-year-old son were lucky enough to survive the fire.
Her 2-month-old baby suffered severe head injuries in the fall.
"Very sad, very grim. The firefighters that were here did their best to rescue as many people as they can, so it's a grim scene that we had here," added Cassano.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Stay with Eyewitness News and 7online.com for more on this developing story.