One person has died and five other people are now looking for temporary housing after an early-morning apartment fire in Saint John.

The fire, which happened at 201 St. James Street West, was called in at about 4 a.m.

Brian Wilson, the fire platoon captain, said crews were able to evacuate the two-storey apartment house, despite encountering heavy fire when they got inside the building.

"It was extremely dangerous, there were flames coming out of a number of the window openings on the first floor, they were emanating some 20 feet out the side of the building," Wilson said on Monday morning.

"It was evident by the scorching of the buildings next to it, so crews had a very difficult time gaining access to the building."

The worst of the fire damage is confined to the rear of the wooden structure, where the body was recovered, Wilson said.

There is smoke and water damage all through the building.

"It's hard to say whether the building is salvageable, or any portion of it is salvageable, I would suggest probably not," he said.

"At this phase it's difficult to tell."


Fire crews in Saint John were called to an early-morning fire at a three-unit building on Saint John's lower west side. (Courtesy Joseph Comeau)

The affected tenants from the three-unit building spent the morning with neighbours.

Red Cross spokesperson Dan Bedell issued a brief statement about the fire on Twitter.

Emergency aid has been provided to three of the tenants so far, he said.

Four people escaped, and one was away at the time.

The city's major crime unit is investigating. Fire investigators are also looking into the cause of the fire.