Police helped rescue two people from a burning building in Cranbrook, B.C., overnight as four businesses in the city's historic downtown burned to the ground.

The fire was first detected by passing police officers who noticed smoke and flames coming from the businesses on Baker Street, in the city's north end, at around 1:30 a.m. MT, said Cpl. Pat Prefontaine.

The officers reported the fire and tried to get into the building to alert occupants upstairs.

Smoke and flames drove them back, but officers roused the couple by shouting and throwing rocks at the upstairs windows, said Prefontaine.

"They were successful in waking two occupants they knew resided in the building and they got to the roof of an adjacent building."

Prefontaine says the couple was led down a ladder to safety by firefighters who had then arrived at the scene.

Fire torches four businesses

Cranbrook B.C.

No one was injured in the fire, but four businesses in the city's downtown core were almost destroyed, including some antique and used furniture stores, according to city spokesman Chris Zettel.

"It will leave a very big hole in that portion of Baker street. Essentially an open space between our downtown and the highway."

The city's iconic red brick Cranbrook Photo building was spared from any significant damage, said Zettel.

The Fire Department doesn't yet know what caused the fire and firefighters will finish mopping up hot spots on Tuesday before beginning their investigation.


With files from the CBC's Bob Keating