Flaming chunks of debris could be seen falling from the top of the building, CBS New York reports.
"I tried to get as many people out as I could, I started banging on doors and just screaming 'fire fire, '" Carter said, according to WPIX. Crews are fighting the blaze from ladders and also from the rooftops of adjacent buildings as the fire continues to spread through neighboring apartments. The wind gusts over 20 miles an hour quickly fueled the fire as it chewed through the room and into the other sixth floor apartments. One civilian suffered smoke inhalation. "A lot of the roof is burned away and we still have very heavy fire and smoke".
An estimated 40 families live in the building, WABC reported.
The American Red Cross has opened a reception area in the neighbourhood to assist families left homeless by the fire.
The cause of the fire wasn't yet determined, but firefighters said fierce winds accelerated the blaze.