A vehicle fire that caught the building next to it on fire and spread so much that 77 NOFD personnel had to be called out late last night in New Orleans East is under investigation, New Orleans Fire Department spokesman Edwin Holmes said in a news release.

Holmes said the first call came in to the department at 12:25 a.m. reporting a vehicle fire, with multiple calls coming in minutes later saying the building in the 14400 block of Peltier Drive had caught fire as well.

When firefighters arrived, more calls came in of people trapped on the third and second floors apartments of the building — above the commercial area on the first floor.

Firefighters then began going door-to-door evacuating people, and called for a second alarm at 12:37 a.m. due to concern of surrounding buildings catching on fire and reports of people being trapped — six minutes after they arrived.

As firefighters began dealing with the blaze, they heard screams coming from one of the second story windows above a parking lot area.

When firefighters approached the window where they heard the screams, a woman threw her child down to firefighters below, who then raised a latter to rescue the remaining three people in the apartment. The two women and two children who had been in the apartment were sent to a hospital for smoke inhalation.

A third alarm was called at 1 a.m. with the fire still intensifying and starting to threaten another area of apartments.

After 26 NOFD units and 77 personnel had been called out in total, Holmes said the fire was finally brought under control at 3:09 a.m.

One firefighter was taken to a hospital after injuring his right shoulder. The injury is not life-threatening, Holmes said.

One of the women taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation also sustained a hip injury.

Residents have been allowed to re-enter their apartments, Holmes said.

Follow Nick Reimann on Twitter, @nicksreimann.

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