Nanaimo Mounties say three of their members were sent to hospital after suffering smoke inhalation while helping residents flee a fire early Wednesday morning in Harewood.
Greg Norman, assistant chief of operations for Nanaimo Fire Rescue, says their crews were called out around 3 a.m.
RCMP say the fire was at the Willow Grove Estates on Sixth Street.
"Upon arrival, crews found a vehicle parked near one of the buildings that was involved in fire and it spread to the exterior wall of the apartment," said Norman. "RCMP were on scene assisting with some evacuation."
Norman says it looks like the fire started in the car and then spread to the building. He says despite climbing up an exterior staircase, the flames did not spread to the interior of any of the units.
RCMP Const. Gary O'Brien says their members saw the entire southwest side of the apartment complex on fire when they showed up and a lot of the tenants were leaving the building. He says the members decided to get in there and make sure everybody was out.
"They found an elderly gentleman who had difficulty walking and they picked him up and carried him out of the building," said O'Brien. "Great work on behalf of the members, unfortunately all three suffered smoke inhalation."
O'Brien says two of the officers were released shortly after being checked out, while the other spent about five hours in hospital. He says all three should be okay in the long-run.
"That was outstanding work...they went in there to ensure the safety of the citizens, not knowing what they're being faced with, whether there's flames or smoke, they still did their job," O'Brien said.
No occupants of the building were injured and Norman says everyone was able to return to their units once the blaze was put out. He says only two units suffered "very minor" smoke damage.
O'Brien says the cause of the fire hasn't been determined and is still under investigation.