The fire broke out in one home on East 143rd Street, initially reported to be vacant, at around 2:50 a.m. Wednesday.
"We had the windows open, and we smelled the smoke," said neighbor Susan Kohlhausen. "My dog also started barking and growling."
"We looked out the back," said neighbor Mike Barrell. "You could see basically the whole sky was kind of lit up."
WATCH: Raw video from the scene as flames consume homes in Mott Haven
Flames quickly spread to as many as four other homes.
"The flames were traveling side to side," said eyewitness Gabriel Figueria.
All the homes were vacant.
The building where the fire originated totally collapsed. Two other buildings partially collapsed.
FDNY Assistant Chief Kevin Brennan said no civilians were injured. One firefighter sustained minor injuries.
Fire crews said efforts to fight the blaze were hindered by the fact that a car that was parked in front of the hydrant right across the street from the flames, preventing them from using it.
Firefighters were able to find water from other hydrants on the street
The cause of the fire is now under investigation.
Fire ripped through the same buildings back on October 8, 2021.
The four buildings on fire Wednesday morning - 416, 418, 420 and 422 East 143rd Street - all have full vacate orders from that fire.
They were occupied multi family homes at the time of that fire, according to media reports at the time, and appear to have been vacant since then.
The cause of that fire was determined to be accidental, due to electric wiring.
There are four open buildings department violations on 420 East 143rd Street, where Wednesday's fire started, stemming from the previous fire and ongoing repairs
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