VICTORIA -- First responders rushed to the Uptown Shopping Centre in Saanich Friday afternoon for reports of "an emergency inside the shopping complex," according to Saanich police.

The Saanich Fire Department said a vehicle crashed into the lower level of the Walmart store at the shopping centre.

"Crews have rescued Walmart employees that were trapped in the commercial coolers," said the fire department in a tweet Friday.

Firefighters said in a follow-up tweet that the driver of the vehicle had sustained "minor injuries" and was being treated by paramedics at the scene.

The two trapped employees also suffered only minor injuries.

Saanich Fire Chief Dan Wood said in a social media post that crews were working on stabilizing the building as people are evacuated from inside.

The crash was so loud, the call initially came in as an explosion, according to firefighters at the scene. That prompted a massive response.

"We had every engine from our department respond," said Saanich Fire Department Capt. James Crighton at the scene.

Saanich police asked drivers to avoid the area. Officers remained at the scene for several hours investigating the cause of the crash. A police spokesperson said there was no update on the incident available Saturday morning.

A live webcam at the shopping centre showed a crowd gathered around the Walmart location.