The fire broke out in one home on 106 Pitney Avenue around 7:30 Friday morning and quickly spread.
The flames engulfed four townhomes before firefighters got the upper hand.
They had the fire knocked down shortly before 8:30 a.m.
Lisa Colagrossi reports that an off duty FDNY firefighter and 2 sanitation workers awoke neighbors to get them out of burning town homes.
"The quick actions of Sanitation Workers Jay Visone and August Cocuzza, assigned to Staten Island District 3, saved lives today by knocking on doors, ringing door bells, and alerting local residents of a three-alarm fire on their block," Sanitation Commissioner Garcia said in a written statement. "These (workers) are the embodiment of dedicated public servants -- taking quick action in time of need and still completing their regular collection routes. These workers embody the Sanitation Department's dedication to public health and safety in the City."
A neighbor, off-duty firefighter Leonard Tyrell, called dispatch as he alerted residents, officials said.
Seven firefighters suffered minor injuries, but no residents were hurt.
The townhouses appeared to be destroyed.