British Columbia

6 people rescued from overnight fire in Vancouver apartment block

Six people were rescued from a burning apartment building in South Vancouver after a fire broke out early Tuesday.

Flames tore through 24-unit apartment building Tuesday morning

Firefighters inspect an apartment unit inside a building on Southwest Marine Drive at Heather Street after a fire early Tuesday. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Six people were rescued from a burning apartment building in South Vancouver after a fire broke out early Tuesday.

Four of those rescued from the complex at Southwest Marine Drive and Heather Street had to be helped from balconies, according to fire crews. Two more were found in hallways inside and pulled to safety.

"People were asleep and they would have woken to the fire alarm and they couldn't get out because of smoke-filled hallways, so they went to their balconies with the hopes of getting the attention of fire [crews] and that's what happened," said Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Assistant Chief Dave Boone.

"The other two people tried to use those hallways and were overcome by smoke."

A firefighter inspects an apartment unit inside a building on Southwest Marine Drive at Heather Street after a fire early Tuesday. Crews said six people had to be rescued from the burning building. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Roads around the 24-unit, wood-frame apartment building were shut down as more than a dozen firefighters worked to contain the flames. Boone said the building is old and wouldn't have had sprinklers.

"Crews had quite a handful in both attacking the fire and simultaneously performing those rescues," the assistant chief said.

Trees adjacent to the property also burned. Neighbours said they could see flames leap from a tree to a balcony. 

A witness told reporters he believed he saw fireworks going off in the area of the building before the fire began.

Boone said fire investigators will be looking into the cause of the fire Tuesday, but said it's too early to speculate on what sparked the flames.

Boone said the rescued residents were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation. He also said one of the people found inside, a man in his 40s, was unconscious when fire crews found him but has since woken up.

The assistant chief said crews have confirmed all occupants are out of the building. Residents will need to find a temporary place to live, as damage to the building was "severe."

The fire was extinguished around 6:15 a.m. PT. 

With files from Yvette Brend and Gian-Paolo Mendoza

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