Fire destroys popular restaurant in Kitsilano, Vancouver

A fire broke out in a row of businesses on Vancouver's West Side on Thursday morning.

Smoke started billowing out of the Topanga Cafe on 4th Avenue around 5 a.m. PT

Fire broke out in a block of buildings on West 4th in Kitsilano early Thursday. (Neil Bacon)

A fire that broke out in a row of businesses on Vancouver's West Side on Thursday morning has destroyed a popular Mexican restaurant.

Smoke started billowing out of a block of buildings containing the Topanga Cafe, near the corner of West 4th Avenue and MacDonald Street in Kitsilano, around 5 a.m. PT, according to Devon McGuire, who lives in a neighbouring building.

"We were just sleeping and I woke to the smell of smoke and I heard fire alarms," said McGuire."And so I went out on to our patio and could smell the smoke, so I went back in and said: 'We've got to get out of here.'"

Bronwen Smith, a renter who lives in the building above the Topanga Cafe, says she threw on her shoes and left as soon as the fire alarm went off.

"Everything is gone," Smith said. "It's just you think of everything that you have and it's gone."

Assistant Deputy Fire Chief  Martin Paulson said over 50 firefighters were called out to fight the stubborn blaze to stop it from spreading to neighbouring buildings.

The block on West 4th was reduced to rubble in the blaze. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Paulson said this type of dense-built building made fighting it difficult.

"Because of the rapid fire spread, it either started outside or inside, got into the walls, got into the roof — it was very difficult. We couldn't access it to get to the [root] of the fire and this makes it very challenging for our crews," Paulson said.

A surrounding stretch of West 4th Avenue was closed to traffic by police as firefighters remained on the scene Thursday morning. Buses were rerouted to West Broadway.

Flowers left at the scene of the July 5 blaze on West 4th Avenue. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Many residents of neighbouring buildings were forced out of their homes by the smoke, but there are no reports of any injuries.

The cause of the fire and the extent of the damage has not yet been released and firefighters said they don't yet know exactly where it started.

Read more from CBC British Columbia

With files from Tina Lovgreen