An entire five-storey block of flats in New York is engulfed in flames as firefighters desperately try to bring the inferno under control.

Terrifying photos show flames ripping through every floor of the building and shooting several feet out of windows.

The flames spread to a neighbouring Ukrainian Catholic church, local media reported.

Crowds watched in shock from the street as dozens of firefighters sprayed water on the building to contain the blaze in lower Manhattan.

Witnesses said the building was vacant due to a previous fire.

It was unclear whether anyone was inside when the four-alarm blaze broke out.

Officials urged local residents to avoid the scene and keep their windows closed as the neighbourhood was shrouded in smoke.

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Terrifying photos show flames ripping through every floor of the building

One witness tweeted: "There’s a huge fire on East 7th Street and 2 Ave in Manhattan right now.

"The building was vacant because of a previous fire, so hopefully no one is getting hurt or displaced."

Another witness wrote: "Roaring fire at corner of Second Ave and E 7 St in Manhattan.

The building was vacant due to a previous fire, say locals
Firefighters desperately try to bring the inferno under control

"Empty from previous fire.

"No spreading or injuries I can see."

A third witness, who snapped photos of the inferno, added: "Fire devouring the building across from me 2nd ave and 7th street."

NBC New York journalist Myles Miller tweeted: "4-alarm fire in 2nd Ave and 7 Street #EastVillage inside a vacant building and spreads to St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church.

"FD reports no injuries and operations ongoing."