Powell River Fire Rescue is investigating an apartment fire.

It happened Monday afternoon at Westview Apartments on Joyce Avenue.

Deputy chief Rocky Swanson said heavy smoke and flames were coming from the north end of the two-storey, wood building.

He added that the fire started on the bottom floor and was spreading to the second floor.

Swanson said crews were on scene within three minutes of getting the call and put the fire out in under 10 minutes.

Residents got out of the building “in the nick of time,” Swanson said, “with another member of the public actually putting a ladder up to a balcony and doing a rescue.”

“So that’s kind of incredible,” he added.

It was extremely hot and dark inside the building, so it took a few extra minutes for firefighters to find the seed of the fire. Swanson figures the fire was in the neighbourhood of 650 degrees Celsius, so it was melting objects on the other side of the building that was not on fire.

“The smoke was so thick, that they couldn’t see the screens of their thermal energy cameras right in front of their faces so they were really not useful,” Swanson said. “And that’s extremely rare. So it was more or less old-fashioned firefighting – on your hands and knees, crawling until you find it.”

Swanson said crews used an “aggressive interior” attack to battle the blaze.

Two people were sent to the hospital, including one who had suffered smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.