The fire broke out at about 9:20 a.m. on Liberty Avenue near 175th Street.
Residents stood by and watched as the flames and thick, black smoke whipped in the wind down the street.
"Very flame-y, very smokey," witness Marvin Ottley said. "We were getting choked out. A while ago, you couldn't even see down the block."
Eyewitness News viewer Cedric Melbourne captured this video of the scene:
The FDNY also took some photos:
It took about 90 minutes to knock down the flames. It is believed the fire started in an illegal shed between two of the houses, and that is the focus of fire officials. It quickly spread to two others.
"The way it was going off, we knew all the houses were going to catch on fire," witness Nevindra Budhu said. "It was just a matter of time that it went over to the auto body shop on that side."
No one was hurt, but Aron Halliburton, who works across the street, said he and another man ran through the flames to rescue an elderly woman who lives in one of the houses.
"We kicked down her door, and she was in the vestibule of the house," he said. "We snatched her up and got her out of the house before the fire started to get out of control. I'm not a hero or anything, I just would hope somebody would do the same for me if it happened to my house."
A man was able to escape the second home, while people who work nearby say the third building is vacant. Officials tell Eyewitness News that the man is not being questioned after a number of guns were discovered inside the home that reportedly do not belong to him.
All three structures are considered total losses.