A fire at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography Sunday evening has been extinguished and investigators are trying to determine a cause.

"We encountered heavy black smoke before arrival and the crews arrived on scene and quickly extinguished the scene," said Brad Connorsactiving division commander of Halifax Fire.

"There was quite a large volume of fire and smoke showing from the exterior of the building. There was quite a bit of materials piled up on the outside of the building and a lot of that stuff was on fire when we arrived," he said.

Connors says the fire broke through some windows and spread inside the building.

Six crews responded to the fire, about 20 firefighters. Connors said firefighters arrived on scene around 4:35 p.m. He says the damage inside the building was "quite extensive."

"The dollar value I'm not sure because there's quite expensive equipment in here that BIO has for their experiments," he said.

Connors says the fire got into the roof. He says there was extensive water, smoke and heat damage in one room.

"Fire damage itself on the exterior building itself was approximately an area of 20 feet wide, the whole height of the building," he said.

Nobody was inside the building at the time of the fire.