An Oak Bay woman is in surgery after an intruder broke into her waterfront home and violently attacked her with what was initially described as a machete, according to police.

The attack took place just before 7:30 a.m. in the 2500-block of Esplanade near Willows Beach Tuesday.

Police say officers responded within minutes of a 911 call from the house and found the 45-year-old victim with “significant” injuries to her upper body, while the suspect had fled the scene.

Officers provided first aid and paramedics rushed the victim to hospital, where she went into surgery to have her wounds treated.

“What we know at this time is that a man, unknown to the resident, entered her home. At some point he was confronted by the resident and a struggle ensued,” said Oak Bay police spokesman Sgt. Rob Smith.

Smith said the woman was attacked with an edged weapon, which was initially reported to be a machete. The weapon has not yet been found.

After an extensive search of the area the attacker remains at large, but police say they don’t believe the public is at risk.

“We have no indication that the community’s in danger at all, but the man is still out there and he showed violent tendencies this morning,” said Smith. “We don’t know where he is, but again, the motive of this attack is unknown…We have no idea whether this was targeted or completely random.”

He said investigators had yet to speak with the woman as she underwent surgery at a local hospital.

Police say the woman was alone in the house at the time and believe she called 911 herself to alert police to the intruder.

They’re now looking for a man in his 20s described as heavier set, who was reportedly wearing a brown jacket, dark pants and a baseball cap. He was also wearing a light blue and white handkerchief wrapped around his neck.

Officials say it’s an unusually violent attack to take place in the relatively quiet suburb of Oak Bay.

“Obviously in Oak Bay or even Greater Victoria this is completely uncommon,” said Smith. “I’ve been here for 20 years and never encountered anything close to this.”

Saanich police have taken the lead on the investigation, and police tape and cruisers remained at the scene throughout the day Tuesday.

The attack also placed kids and staff at two Oak Bay schools under a precautionary hold and secure order for hours as the search for the man was underway.

Glenlyon Norfolk School and Willows Elementary were given the order before 8:30 a.m., and it was eventually lifted around 10:30 after it was determined the schools were not in danger.

Because the attack happened along a usually busy stretch of beach, police are hoping witnesses in the area who noticed anything unusual will come forward.

Anyone with information is asked to call Saanich police at 250-475-4321 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.