The blaze broke out around 8 p.m. in a two-story row house on 68th Avenue in Middle Village and quickly spread to six other homes.
The FDNY ruled the fire as accidental, and was caused by electrical wiring.
It took about 200 firefighters, 11 of whom suffered minor injuries, several hours to bring the rapidly-moving fire under control.
Arthur Rabich lives in the home where the fire started. He is also the landlord to a young family with two small children living above him.
He says they were all able to get out safely after he ran and screamed, banging on the doors after spotting what he described as a giant fireball, almost as if a bomb went off.
"That's how the whole thing went up," he said. "We don't know what caused it. I saw it from the window, and it went up, so I got everybody out before. I didn't know if it was an explosion, or gas or whatever. So we all got out quick."
No other injuries were reported, and three pets got out safely as well.
The Red Cross was at the scene assisting residents displaced by the fire.