updated 4/8/2007 10:08:29 PM ET 2007-04-09T02:08:29

A brush fire that was pushed by strong winds toward a residential area damaged several homes Sunday and injured at least eight people.

The fire in Staten Island’s Midland Beach neighborhood forced the evacuation of about 10 homes.

More than 250 firefighters tackled the blaze, and five were taken to the hospital, along with one resident suffering from smoke inhalation. Another firefighter and a police officer were treated at the scene.

Resident Ray Fletcher said he was inside his home watching a baseball game on television when darkness covered his windows “like day turned into night.” He said he went outside to see what was going on.

“By the time I came outside, the whole street here was up on fire,” he said. “And I was thinking to myself, ’How the hell am I going to get out of here? Is this the way that I’m going to die?”’

One of Fletcher’s cars was burned by the flames. Two nearby vacant homes were heavily damaged, and two other homes were burned on their exteriors, firefighters said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, fire department Deputy Chief William Tanzosh said.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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