June 12 update: The mother and son who died in the fire have been identified.

A devastating fire that broke out at a North Vancouver apartment complex overnight while residents were sleeping claimed two lives and put 16 people in hospital.

Tragically, neighbours say the deceased are a mother and her youngest son who couldn't escape after flames erupted at Mountain Village Garden Apartments around 2:30 a.m.

But the child's older brother and father did survive, according to Dorsa Pedroud, who lives in the same building.

Pedroud told CTV News the brother leapt from a window onto a trampoline to escape the smoke that was filling their home.

"He has asthma. He couldn't breathe, so he had to jump out," she said.

The brother first tried to help his family by bringing them to the window, Pedroud said, and he believed they would be right behind him after he jumped.

But something in the building exploded moments after he landed. Pedroud said she had also just made it outside when the blast rang out.

"I was just wearing my shirt and my first instinct was put on clothes, grab my cat and run," she said. "As soon as I came out the door… the balcony exploded."

It's unclear how the father made it out, but he was among the 16 people taken to three different hospitals – Lions Gate, Vancouver General, and BC Children's – with injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to burns.

Pedroud said the father suffered serious burns to his shoulders and feet, and lost some of his teeth.

Firefighters from two departments were dispatched to the property, but the flames spread quickly through the wood-frame apartments.

Fortunately, crews were able to keep the fire contained to one of the several buildings at the 170-unit Mountain Village complex, located in the Lynn Valley neighbourhood.

When firefighters arrived, the first and second floors were fully engulfed, and it took some time before they were able to enter the building to search for survivors.

"We conduct a primary search as soon as we can get entry into the building and due to the heavy fire involvement upon our arrival that did take some time to get into the structure, and then they were located," said Chief Brian Hutchinson from District of North Vancouver's Fire and Rescue Services.

Another 150 residents from four buildings were evacuated and sent to a reception centre, but many have since been allowed back. Police said 17 units were damaged, and about 70 people have been permanently displaced. 

So far, it's unclear how the fire started, but authorities haven't indicated there is any reason to believe it was suspicious in nature.

The RCMP has been called to investigate, as it always does with fires that turn deadly.

With files from CTV Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim