CAMPBELL RIVER -- Firefighters are crediting working smoke alarms with helping a family escape uninjured from a fire which destroyed their home in Campbell River Wednesday evening.

Campbell River Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Kelly Bellefleur says 911 calls started coming in around 6:20 p.m. about a house on fire on Murray Place, with flames visible out of the garage.

"When our first units arrived on scene, they were presented with a home that was completely engulfed in flames across the whole front of the building and the fire was growing very rapidly," Bellefleur told CTV News.

The deputy fire chief says the first challenge was to keep the flames from spreading to homes on either side of the structure. They were able to limit damage in those instances to just melted siding.

It's believed there were three people in the home when the fire broke out. A husband and wife escaped to the property’s backyard with their pets but were then trapped there because of the flames.

They were eventually able to make their way out by creating a hole in a neighbours' fence.

"This is a prime example of where a smoke alarm can make the difference," said Bellefleur.

"The speed of fire spread is incredibly fast, minutes really do make a huge difference. It was the working smoke alarms that alerted the residents to the fire inside."

Next door neighbour Rebecca Ravenstein called the incident the scariest thing she'd ever seen in her life. Her home security camera caught smoke coming out of the home and firefighters arriving on scene to battle the blaze.

"The whole garage door area was full flame and it just really quickly went up from there – all the way into the roof, " said Ravenstein. "The speed of how fast it went up and the smoke was ridiculous."

A second neighbour, Jason Kirkpatrick, was also amazed at how quickly the flames spread.

"Our kids came running in saying a house was on fire. We came out and saw the garage was on fire and it just got worse from there. We could feel the heat and also the smoke was quite thick," he said.

Officials believe the fire started somewhere in the home's garage but will have to investigate further to determine the cause.