Vancouver Police are appealing for witnesses to a suspicious fire that caused extensive damage to a South Vancouver apartment building Monday and sent one person to hospital with serious injuries.

VPD detectives believe the fire started outside the building then quickly spread to the structure. Witnesses reported hearing fireworks and seeing a group of people walking away from the building at the time of the fire.

“We believe someone out there knows how this fire started. We’re asking them to do the right thing and come forward,” says Sergeant Steve Addison, VPD. “This fire caused significant damage, destroyed a number of homes, and put dozens of people in harm’s way.”

Vancouver Police were called to the three-storey building, near Marine Drive and Heather Street, around 3 a.m. Tuesday to assist Vancouver Fire Rescue Services. Because the fire started at night, most residents were sleeping inside and were unable to evacuate quickly. Several tenants in the 19-suite building had to be rescued from the flames and smoke.

Two people were sent to hospital with injuries, including a 33-year-old man who has serious injuries.

Though the fire remains under investigation, residents told police they heard fireworks and saw people walking away toward Marine Drive. VPD investigators are now looking for witnesses, video, and any other evidence that can help this investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call VPD’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541. Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.