Guests of two hotels on Vancouver’s Granville Street woke up early Saturday morning to orange flames glowing out their windows and the smell of smoke engulfing their hotel rooms.
More than 100 people from the Samesun Hostel and the Belmont Hotel rushed out of their suites around 2 a.m. as sprinklers and alarms went off.
“It was like an inferno,” said Gustavo, who is visiting from Brazil to attend a seminar at the University of British Columbia. He did not give his last name.
“It’s completely destroyed, flooding and lot of the ceiling is falling.”
He was staying on the second floor when he heard someone banging on his door to wake up.
Vancouver Fire Rescue Services Assistant Chief Pierre Morin says a vehicle in the back alley went up in flames and eventually caught the Samesun Hostel on fire.
“There was extensive fire in the building and the vehicle,” he said. “It was pretty hectic.”
He says fire damage is most extensive on one side of the building, but smoke and water damage are significant throughout.
The Belmont Hotel did not suffer any damage.
One firefighter was taken to hospital after part of the ceiling collapsed on him, but he has since been treated and released.
Two people were also taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.
Forty-eight firefighters were called to help put out the blaze, and some were still on scene late Saturday morning putting out hot spots.
The fire caused chaos on Granville Street Saturday, as crowds of guests looking to return to their suites to get their items lined the street.
“Most of the people were sleeping when the fire began and we went out real quick, but a lot of people didn’t manage to bring out their belongings like their passports, their flight tickets, all left inside of their rooms,” said Gustavo.
CTV News spoke with many upset guests who missed flights or had to leave imminently.
By 10 a.m., crews allowed guests to return inside the hostel in small groups to retrieve their items.
Guests were seen exiting the building wet from the sprinklers, carrying luggage that was completely soaked.
Morin said firefighters eventually had to stop letting people back inside for safety concerns as the neighbouring building had a “flare up.”
He confirmed all sprinkler and alarm systems were in working order in all buildings.
He said the vehicle is a complete write-off and investigators will work to determine if foul play was involved.
Crews are expected to be on scene into the evening. The area is also expected to be blocked off throughout the day.