More than 35 people are homeless after an apartment building fire in Dieppe, N.B., late Sunday night that the local assistant fire chief describes as "violent."

Flames were shooting out of the roof of the four-storey building when they responded to the call at 487 Champlain Street shortly after 10 p.m., says Dieppe Fire Department Assistant Chief Conrad Landry.

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"Normally apartment fires, we have time to arrive and it's contained to one unit. But this, the flames were gushing out of the roof, so it's a little different than we're used to, meaning that it was quite advanced by the time we arrived there. And the fire hall is literally two minutes from the apartment building," said Landry.

"The stairwells got full of smoke so people couldn't get down, so most of the fourth floor and third floor people went on their balcony, and with the assistance of the Moncton Fire Department's ladder truck, we were able to rescue everybody successfully."

It took several hours for fire crews from Dieppe and Moncton to extinguish the blaze. The building suffered extensive damage.

"The fourth floor is gone, basically, because the roof collapsed on it and then the other floors from the third floor down is a lot of damage — water damage and some fire damage, but mostly water damage. So the fire was mostly on the fourth floor in the attic," said Landry.

Landry said no injuries were reported.

Crews were on the scene at 9 a.m. Monday morning to begin an investigation, says Landry.

The Canadian Red Cross has arranged for emergency lodging, food and clothing for 20 tenants, but expect to provide assistance for more people later today as some tenants were away for the Labour Day weekend.