Alarms woke residents of a 46-unit building at Les Chateaux, 1403 Warwick Ave., at 3 a.m. Saturday, and they ran out into the freezing night.
Sixty people escaped, 49 adults and 11 children in 35 families, according to a Red Cross spokeswoman Sunday evening. They were given temporary shelter in a hotel.
Warwick Battalion Chief Thomas F. Brady said he heard the zone alarms, from first to second to third, track the smoke rising through the stairwells of the three-story building that is parallel to Warwick Avenue.
Smoke filled the lobby, Brady said, and firefighters could see flames entering from the hall.
He said the fire started in a basement storage area, set off a sprinkler near the boiler, then rolled across the ceiling and up the stairs to the first-floor hallway. The fire door on the right was closed, which he said prevented damage on that side, but rooms along the hallway going left from the elevator had burns on their doors from the top to about three feet above the floor.
Without knowing that everyone had escaped safely, the first engine called a second alarm to bring more help in searching. About 32 firefighters worked the scene.
No firefighters were hurt, Brady said, but two residents suffered smoke injuries and one slipped and fell on the ice.
The temperature was 18 degrees, Brady said, and residents did not have time to grab car keys or warm clothes. Buses arrived to take them to the Pilgrim Senior Center, so they could be warm while the Red Cross enrolled them for services.
Flames were arrested at the first floor within about a half hour of the first truck arriving and attacking the the origin area with a single hose, he said. Two companies worked the roof. The wind helped clear smoke after firefighters opened sliding glass doors in each room.
At about 5 a.m., firefighters provided escorts to allow one resident from each unit to retrieve keys, medications, cell phones and other necessities before the building, which had no water, heat or electricity, was secured.