VICTORIA -- More than 85 people have been forced out of their homes in Campbell River after an early morning apartment fire Wednesday.

Fire crews responded to a building at the corner of Dogwood Street and Ninth Avenue at 4:20 a.m. to find heavy smoke and flames shooting out of a second-floor apartment.

Campbell River Fire Chief Thomas Doherty tells CTV News the fire originated in a second-floor unit and quickly spread into the third floor. Firefighters searched the building and rescued approximately 54 people who were transferred to the care of paramedics. Several residents had to be rescued from their balconies during the blaze.

"We did find some people still in their units even though the alarm bells were ringing," Doherty said. As the fire progressed, firefighters pulled out of the building and took up a defensive position to attack the flames. The roof of the building eventually collapsed due to the damage.

It is unclear if anyone was seriously injured in the blaze. Doherty said two firefighters fell through the third floor into the second floor while fighting the flames but were unhurt.

Many of the estimated 86 displaced residents are being housed at the Coast Discovery Inn Hotel in Campbell River.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.