A smoke alarm was apparently removed from a Surrey, B.C., house where a fire broke out this morning, killing an elderly woman.

Deputy fire chief Dan Barnsher says two other smoke detectors were also not functioning.

Seven other people managed to escape the fire after a neighbour spotted the flames and rushed over to sound the alarm.

When the fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. PT on the 8800 block of 146A Street, neighbour Beth Willicome says her grandson Vincent woke up the neighbourhood by screaming "Fire."

"Nobody in that house knew what was going on. He was the one that started yelling and banging. So we all got out, 'cause you never know where it's gonna go, right?"

Willcome said Vincent tried to get inside the burning home, but was pushed back by the flames.

"As he went by, the front window blew out."

Body found inside

Barnscher says the house was fully engulfed by the time crews arrived.

"It was fairly intensive fire when they arrived and they were able to make entry almost immediately to check for any victims."

Barnscher says seven people were rescued and taken to hospital, but firefighters found the body of the elderly woman inside after they put out the flames.

Officials spent the morning searching for the cause of the fire and trying to determine if the home's smoke detectors were functional.

"We don't know if it looks suspicious or anything. We've got an investigator on scene," said Barnscher.

The identity of the victim has not been released. A sign on the house indicates it once served as a daycare.

Google Map: 146A St, Surrey, B.C.

View Larger Map