A Surrey, B.C. home that was destroyed by fire was the former home of Leon Mandrake or 'Mandrake the Magician,' a local performer known around the world for his magic, illusions and stunts. 

Leon Mandrake "Mandrake the Magician"

Leon Mandrake, or "Mandrake the Magician", was a famous entertainer in the vaudeville-era and beyond. He died in Surrey, B.C. in 1993. (CBC Archives)

Mandrake owned the house on the corner of Grosvenor Road and Kindersley Drive before his death in 1993.

Surrey city council considered giving heritage status to the old home — an idea first brought before council in 2008, according to city documents.

The home was still being considered for heritage status as recently as May 2015.

Neighbours awoke to see raging flames and smoke early Sunday morning as the fire spewed ash that could be seen for kilometres.

One witness said the building was slated for demolition and was thought to be empty.

Neighbour Joshua Desmarais charged outside to see if anybody was in the house.

Joshua Desmarais of Grosvenor Street Surrey BC fire

Joshua Desmarais said he awoke to see 25-foot flames and a small crowd of people fleeing a large house on fire, with dogs and duffle bags in tow. (CBC)

"All I saw was people with dogs and bags piling out of the house... there must have been ten or 15 people. Five or six big dogs and backpacks and duffle bags and suitcases," said Desmarais.

He saw one man in a red shirt take off running down the street after a woman told him there was propane in the house.

"It was huge. There must have been 25-foot flames above the roof of the house. It was intense," he said.

"It was scary."

Grosvenor Road Fire Surrey

Firefighters describe the blaze as very difficult to manage. (Shane MacKichan)

Grosvenor Road

Fire at a Surrey, B.C. home that started early Sunday morning spewed smoke that was visible from as far away as the Port Mann Bridge. (Shane MacKichan)

With files from Bal Brach