Residents of a seniors home and care facility are safe after a fire broke out in their East Vancouver building early Sunday morning.

Crews arrived at the Villa Carital care facility on Penticton Street just before 4 a.m. Sunday to find flames and thick smoke coming from a small alley next to one of the buildings.

The first fire engines to arrive at the scene quickly connected a hose to a nearby hydrant, and immediately started attacking the fire.

Sections of the roof broke and fell off as the flames worked their way up the building.

EAST VANCOUVER SENIORS HOME FIRE

When fire crews arrived at the scene, they found flames and thick smoke coming from a small alley next to one of the buildings. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

An aggressive attack

Deputy Chief Brian Godlonton said the fire was quickly upgraded to a third alarm, so crews could take a more aggressive attack on the blaze.

"We've got a gas line that's ruptured, that's actually still continuing to feed the fire," said Godlonton.

Paramedics, Vancouver Police, and other firefighters arrived shortly after to help facility staff evacuate dozens of elderly residents onto the street, where they were given blankets.

DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF BRIAN GODLONTON

Deputy Chief Brian Godlonton says crews had to fight the fire from inside the building as well. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Massive paramedic response

Nineteen ambulances and a number of transit buses arrived to assist the 30 to 40 residents, after the fire was under control.

Paramedics and transit supervisors worked for hours loading the residents into the buses, and kept them warm while crews fought to contain the fire.

EAST VANCOUVER SENIORS HOME FIRE 2

A firefighter gears up to fight the blazes at the Villa Carital care facility in East Vancouver. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

First responders started helping the residents move back in around 5:40 a.m., although the building still did not have any heat or running water at that time.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

EAST VANCOUVER SENIORS HOME FIRE

Paramedics and transit supervisors worked quickly to keep the elderly residents warm outside. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)