CHINATOWN, Manhattan (PIX11) — New York City fire marshals on Saturday were still searching for the cause of a fire in a Chinatown souvenir shop.

More than 50 residents were also waiting to hear from officials about when they could return home. 

A fast-moving fire Friday afternoon started in a ground-floor souvenir shop at 47 Mott St. and then raced up to the 21 apartments above in the six-story building.

Dozens of residents registered with the Red Cross for emergency shelter after the multiple-alarm fire destroyed many of the apartments in the front of the building.

More than 140 firefighters battled to control the flames for over two hours. Officials described the fire as very challenging.

“It was really for the efforts of firefighters who came in quickly, stretched the lines and mitigated loss of life,” Thomas Currao, an assistant chief of FDNY, said at a press conference. 

And as cellphone video shows, there were dramatic moments as residents escaped down fire escapes:

“I encountered one of the residents who helped people,” Grace Lee, New York State assemblymember, told PIX11 News. “He was escaping in his bathrobe. He got down safely two other people with children. He was really worried about his cat.”

Firefighters were able to rescue his cat Pearl, and they were reunited. 

Pearl the cat and his owner spent Friday night in a hotel and many others were waiting to see how quickly their landlord could make their apartments habitable again.

“The goal is to work with the building management,” Christopher Marte, the NYC councilmember for the neighborhood, told PIX11 News. “It’s a Family Association here in Chinatown that wants to repair this building as soon as possible to get it fully functioning.”