The displaced residents were placed on an nearby bus so they could keep warm while firefighters continued battling the inferno.
One resident told NBC news he fled the building, barefoot and barechested, with his three children into freezing temperatures that dipped as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius.
Officials say firefighters cleared the building, and no people have been reported missing.
"Our units arrived and were immediately faced with heavy fire". The fire apparently started in a furniture store, Nigro said.
The fire went to six alarms and dozens of fire vehicles were on scene as thick smoke poured out of the building and flames were through the roof.
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Officials say over 200 firefighters have responded to the blaze at a four-storey building near the Bronx Zoo in Van Nest. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called it the worst fire tragedy the city has seen in a quarter century.
"Thank you to the @FDNY and our first responders for fighting this fire throughout the night".
All of the residents of the building were believed to have been evacuated.
The fire was put out several hours later and comes just days after a fire in the Claremont section of the Bronx killed 12 people.