"It was very traumatic, we're out alive and safe," said Barron Lloyd, a building resident.
Lloyd showed Eyewitness News the sixth floor apartment where he was forced to make split-second decisions in order to save his family Saturday night.
A raging fire that started just two floors below nearly trapped them inside their smoke-filled unit.
"I gathered everybody, my mom, children into the bedroom where the fire escape was to block where the smoke was coming through," Lloyd said.
Officials say wind gusts created a blowtorch effect and the out-of-control blaze quickly took over all of the upper floors of the building at 346 East 29th street and Avenue D in Flatbush.
At 6:41 p.m. Saturday, the first call came in with reports of flames in the back of the building.
By 8:43 p.m., the fire had reached a fifth alarm and 200 firefighters were on scene.
"The fire department told us to go back in and stay in there and close the door, but the house became super flooded with smoke," said Taffy Spencer, a building resident.
And so she, like many others, climbed out onto the fire escape.
It wasn't until 1:58 a.m. Sunday that officials ruled the fire was under control. But by then, the damage was done.
Nearly a dozen residents were injured and 64-year-old Mary Feagin, who lived alone in a top-floor apartment where the roof collapsed, was found dead.
"She retired a month ago, and she said she's going to enjoy herself, travel," neighbor Carol Rosemin said. "A very, very nice woman, my heart grieves for her."
They are now riding an emotional roller coaster, but there are glimmers of hope as some residents found their pets alive. These moments were countered with those of deep despair as they got a first look at all of the damage.
"Everything is soaking wet, my furniture, everything, everything," resident Mirilda Wilson said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.