• The fire broke out early Saturday morning
  • Dozens of people were allegedly living illegally in the house
  • The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained

A massive three-alarm fire that broke out early Saturday morning at a New York City building left three people dead and several injured, including two firefighters.

Dozens of firefighters raced to contain the blazes in the three-story building, which reportedly has a history of overcrowding.

The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) was informed about the house fire at around 5.30 a.m. ET on 48th Ave in Elmhurst, Queens. At least 138 firefighters responded to the scene and, by 7 a.m. ET, the fire grew substantially intense, NBC-affiliated WNBC-TV reported.

The building was left severely damaged due to the fire. The roof collapsed after the fire tore through the top story and the staircase was also heavily damaged, ABC-affiliated KABC-TV reported.

At least eight people were known to be living inside the home at the time of the mishap. Rescue officials recovered two bodies from the second floor and one from the third floor.

FDNY officials told KABC-TV two persons were able to evacuate the house before the fire spread. They were taken to a local hospital for smoke inhalation. Two other occupants were not at home when the fire broke out.

The cause of the fire isn’t ascertained yet.

One of the firefighters was injured after he fell from the first floor to the basement. The two firefighters suffered minor injuries at the scene and were taken to separate local hospitals alongside two other injured civilians, KABC-TV reported.

The city’s Buildings Department (DOB) had earlier received several complaints about dozens of squatters living inside the house. An order to vacate was issued to the building’s owner in February 2018 for illegal conversions of single room occupancies and the violation of the same subsequently led to over $217,000 in penalties, a DOB official told WNBC-TV.

"Illegal Conversions pose a severe fire hazard to not only building occupants but neighbors and first responders as well, which is why we previously issued a Vacate Order for the cellar of this building and issued punitive violations to the landlord," DOB said in a statement. "Our inspectors remain on scene, conducting a full investigation into this tragic fire."

Queens Borough president Donovan Richards, in a tweet, extended his sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives and thanked the fire officials who worked to contain the blaze.

As a result of the enormous fire, at least three neighboring buildings have also suffered damages, KABC-TV reported.

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