"When we came out, we saw the door and the windows on fire," one said.
The fast moving fire roared through their four-story brownstone before dawn.
Many of the nearly one dozen who lived here made it out alive only because firefighters raced in to save them.
"The entire room was engulfed in flames, and myself and the occupant made a dash to the window," firefighter Peter Demontreaux said.
"All of sudden I get hit and it's Pete running through the fire, taking the civilian and threw him out on top of me and the civilian was on fire," Lt. Richie Myer said.
"The fire department put the ladder up there and got me out. Then they went back for a friend of mine. And that's when he, the fireman, got burned," said Henry, who has lived in the building for 2 and a half years
In fact, firefighter Demontreaux sustained 1st degree burns on his face and 2nd degree burns on his back.
Three of the tenants rescued were also critically burned in a fire now classified as suspicious.
FDNY arson investigators, along with detectives from the NYPD, spent most of the day going over the scene, trying to confirm exactly how and where the fire started.
Despite, the reluctance of investigators to jump to conclusions, several of the tenants believe the fire is connected to a shooting just doors down last week.
"He got shot on the 25th, two doors down from here," Henry said.
In all 9 residents and 6 firefighters were injured.