The fire started around 7:00 Saturday morning at a three story apartment building on St. Pauls Road North in Hempstead.
It then spread to several nearby buildings.
Thirteen fire departments responded to help battle the flames.
Some residents jumped from the third floor of the building, about 30 feet, to escape the flames.
Authorities said more than a foot of snow on the ground probably saved their lives by breaking the fall.
About 150 people were evacuated. Half of them have been placed in temporary shelters, officials said.
The American Red Cross says it is helping about 70 people who have been displaced by the fire.
It could be weeks before those displaced are allowed back in their homes.
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