Fire crews rescued five residents and their pets from a smoke-filled apartment near the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Ellis Street W. Wednesday afternoon.

Jay Thorne lives a few doors down from the building and said the fire started on the second floor and clouds of smoke quickly started filling the apartment above where a woman and man could be seen.

"Smoke was just pouring out, you could barely see them in the window," he said. "The fireman grabbed the woman and carried her down the ladder ... like a roofer carrying shingles up onto a roof."

The man was later rescued using an aerial bucket, he added.

"He was coughing and spitting and couldn't  breathe," said Thorne.

Apartment fire rescue, Windsor

Five people were pulled from the apartment building near the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Ellis Street W. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

District Chief Bruno Bertucci said crews arrived at the scene to "heavy smoke and fire."

Five people were pulled from the apartment using the ladder and aerial bucket and treated for smoke inhalation, along with their pets.

"People can go into a panicked state and then you're trying to have them come down a ladder and that's really hard," he explained. "It's pretty traumatic for them. We try to reassure them, but we want to get them out of that smoke." 

Bertucci said the apartments suffered "extensive" damage so residents will need to find somewhere else to stay.

The chief added all of the animals were doing well after the fire, including a little cat that was already running around and "really healthy."