EAST NEW YORK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- The FDNY is investigating whether fireworks are to blame for a massive fire at a Brooklyn apartment.
Construction materials caught fire at the Boulevard Houses on Schenck Ave in East New York just before 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The fire quickly escalated to four alarms after spreading to several units. Fire marshals collected a box of fireworks left in the courtyard of the building, and their investigation will make the determination whether that was the cause of the fire.
A total of 12 apartments had fire in them. The NYCHA building is built with fireproof materials that do not allow fire to spread from one apartment to the next, but officials explained that that is not what happened. The fire moved from the outside in and spread up and outside the building, requiring 180 firefighters to tackle, because it went to four alarms.
Residents are upset with the building management company called 'Boulevard' for allowing these renovation materials to be left there -- and of course with whoever was using illegal fireworks.
Resident Josephine Sendra, 83, told Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne that she recalled shortly before the fire seeing fireworks coming at her from outside her kitchen window. She ran out of the kitchen.
"Because I felt that the fireworks was going to come through the window and hit me," she said.
Sendra, who has lived in the building for 57 years, said she grabbed a few items and ran out of the building when she started to see smoke.
Sendra's apartment was destroyed by the flames.
"At least I'm safe and that's what counts," she said.
Sendra is now living with family members.
Seven people are being treated for smoke inhalation -- two of those people are children and two are firefighters. They are all expected to be okay.
New York City Councilman Christopher Banks visited the building Monday.
He said he has concerns about why a filled construction container was placed so close to the building.
Banks said there is evidence the container had chemicals in it and other flammable materials.
"I think that's something that we have to really investigate to see why was it there," he said.
Banks said 23 families have been displaced by the fire.