Residents of an East Vancouver apartment building were forced out of their homes Monday evening as a three-alarm fire tore through the structure.

The blaze at 326 Woodland Drive was first reported at 6 p.m., according to Deputy Fire Chief Brian Godlonton. Several residents were still inside by the time fire crews arrived, and had to be escorted out.

"The fire was very intense and it was growing quite quickly," he told CBC News.

The blaze appeared to have started on the first floor of the building, but Godlonton wasn't able to say how many of the 24 suites had been damaged.

Tenant Bradley James was packing for a flight and trying to decide what to wear when the fire started.

"As soon as I saw the smoke coming through the walls, I grabbed my dog," he said. "I didn't even think to pick up my phone or anything."

He doesn't believe the 15-year-old animal would have survived without him there.

"I'm just still in shock," James said.

No one was injured in the flames, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.