A fire in Surrey sent four people to hospital and badly damaged three townhomes overnight Thursday.

The three-storey building on 159 Street near 87 Avenue caught fire around 11:30 p.m. PT.

Four people were taken to hospital to be treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation.

Surrey townhome fire

Three units were destroyed by the fire on 159 Street near 87th Ave in Surrey, B.C., overnight Thursday. (Jesse Johnston)

Deputy fire chief Karen Fry says there were some safety precautions taken by the homeowners that may have saved lives.

"We do know smoke alarms are sounding in the units, so that is always a positive thing. It can save multiple lives having those smoke alarms — you know, early detection at this time of night while people are sleeping."

While the building did have smoke alarms, Fry says it was not equipped with sprinklers, making it harder to fight the fire.

The cause of the fire has not been released.