The blaze broke out on the upper floors of the Walton Avenue building at around 12:18 a.m.
The fire started on the sixth floor, spreading from apartment to apartment in the rear of the building. The roof quickly collapsed, forcing firefighters to scramble out of danger.
Heavy flames soon shot out the roof of the building, just two blocks from Yankee Stadium. Firefighters said a new roof was recently put down, and the fire spread on the rubbery substance.
Officials say 27 firefighters and three residents were injured.
More of the hurt firefighters sustained strains and minor bumps and bruises, and at least 20 were treated at local hospitals. An FDNY captain was being examined for chest pains at Jacobi Medical Center.
Firefighters said the warm weather was an added challenge in battling the blaze, which was brought under control around 4:30 a.m.
"The heat is a considerable obstacle for us to overcome. It is a real challenge," FDNY Chief of Department Edward Kilduff said. "We probably stretched 200 feet of hoseline. That in itself is an exhausting task."
A bus was brought in to shelter displaced residents. All were believed to be accounted for.
The building, which dates to 1927, houses about 185 apartments. At many as one third of the residents will not be allowed to return, as their apartments are permanently destroyed. Many other units reportedly suffered severe water damage.
The Red Cross is providing food and emotional support at a local high school for affected residents. Emergency shelter will be provided to those needing it.
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