Hundreds forced out of their homes by fire in Elmhurst

ELMHURST, Queens (WABC) -- A fire at an apartment building in Queens has forced hundreds of people out of their homes.

The fire broke out at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday in a building at the corner of 41st Avenue and 81st Street in Elmhurst.

Flames were shooting out of the top floor windows and the roof. Several top floor apartments were heavily damaged in the blaze.

"We were forced to cut a hole in the roof, the fire burned through the roof," said FDNY Chief of Department James Leonard. "A lot of people will be displaced, that's the shame of it. But we were able to save almost all of the top floor."

No one was injured, but there is extensive smoke and water damage throughout the building, which has about 300 apartments.

Hours later, emergency crews worked to stop the lobby from turning into an indoor pool. "The other floors are soaked," said Joe Garorno of American Emergency Services. "The electricity is damaged. You'll have to have an electrician come, dry all the wires out. It's a lot of damage."

The city placed a vacate notice on the front door for five heavily damaged apartments on the seventh floor.

16-year-old Christopher Campoverde was at a baby shower in Connecticut when the whole family had to rush home and save their pets, a dog and a rabbit. They grew up inside the apartment.

"It's something you really never expect," he said. "You see it happen, but you don't really think it's going to happen to you."

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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