A historic hotel in Campbell River went up in flames overnight, displacing more than a dozen residents and wiping a century-old landmark off the face of the Vancouver Island city.

Firefighters were called to the Quinsam Hotel, known by locals as the “Quinny,” at 1500 Island Highway at around midnight, according to Campbell River Fire.

They arrived to heavy smoke and flames shooting from the building, and crews went into a defensive attack.

“It’s one of the historic buildings here in town and it is an older building and a lot of different renovations occurred within the structure,” said deputy fire chief Thomas Doherty. “So there’s a lot of different cavities throughout. It’s one of those ones that one day, we knew we’d be faced with something like this.”

He said it wasn’t clear where the fire originated but there was heavy involvement on the second and third floors.

“I woke up and I heard a guy saying there was a fire, fire get out. And I smelled the fire, smoke coming into my room slowly,” said resident Herbert Eaton.

Another resident, Richard Millar, said he narrowly escaped the blaze.

“I kicked a door in. When I kicked the door in, another guy came in and got the fire extinguisher, another guy came in and then we had to duck down, so I crawled on my knees and I grabbed a couple of guys out of there,” he said. “Next thing you know all heck broke loose.”

Everyone got out okay and one person was treated for smoke inhalation, and residents of the hotel said they lost everything in the fire.

“My kids pictures, my family pictures, my wedding pictures. I lost everything,” Miller said.

The cause of the blaze is unclear. Crews had dealt with a smaller fire earlier in the day in one of the suites, but it was extinguished without incident and likely wasn’t related to the massive blaze, Doherty said.

Two fire engines, a tower truck and a rescue truck were deployed and mutual aid was called in from Oyster River Volunteer Fire Department.

In all, 25 firefighters attacked the overnight blaze until about 5 a.m. when it was extinguished, with parts of the building collapsing in the process.

The incident also closed Highway 19A temporarily.

The hotel suffered extensive damage and was considered a write-off off as of Wednesday morning.

According to the city, construction of the hotel began in 1917 and later included an enlarged beer parlour and dining room downstairs. 

With files from CTV Vancouver Island's Gord Kurbis