Residents of a low-rise apartment building in Kitsilano were forced from their homes after a fast moving balcony fire Friday morning.

Video taken by a resident shows flames shooting from the front of the low rise apartment building on West 2nd Avenue near Arbutus Street just after 6 a.m.

Vancouver fire crews believe the flames started on the balcony of one suite but then spread across the front side of the building. 

"It spread both vertically and horizontally, so the first-in crews saw nothing but smoke and flames, and it looked like the building is fully involved," said Assistant Chief Kevin Wilson with Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.

"The fire spread so fast it then took out the double set of sun-deck door windows and spread to the interior of the building."

The fire department says they attacked the fire from both inside and outside and managed to get the flames knocked down fairly quickly.

Firefighters say they had to search the building and helped several people get to safety. 

Several residents told CTV News Vancouver they woke up to the sound of the fire alarm but many weren't sure it was an actual emergency until neighbours started knocking on doors and yelling in the hallways.

"We heard someone yelling 'fire,' get out of the building from the outside. So we were like, okay this is not a joke, we have to get out fast," said resident Camille Obianyor. “We walked out and realized the fire was crazy."

Three people were taken to hospital with injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to minor burns. It's not believed any of the injuries were serious.

A fire investigator is looking into the cause but it's not believed to be suspicious. 

Around 8 a.m. most residents from the roughly 40 suites in the building were allowed to return home. 

Damage to the suite where the fire is believed to have started is extensive, with the inside and outside gutted. Two other suites were also badly damaged, according to the fire department. 

Emergency social services has been called in to assist the residents who remain displaced.