A Vancouver firefighter was injured while battling a blaze in the Downtown Eastside early Tuesday morning, but it wasn't the smoke or flames that put him in hospital – it was a suspected drunk driver.

According to police, fire crews were attacking a blaze near Main and Hastings streets shortly after 1 a.m. when a driver tried to circumvent some of their equipment.

Unfortunately, he drove over a working fire hose and ended up dragging it partway down the street. The hose tore in half and whipped across the road, knocking over a working firefighter.

"You'd think the emergency lights on a big vehicle would sometimes be enough to protect our guys working on the street," Battalion Chief Glen Livingstone said, “but in fact this driver went right through all that and still managed to get one of our guys."

The firefighter suffered extensive lower body injuries and was taken to St. Paul's Hospital by ambulance. Authorities said he will likely require surgery – though the outcome could have been much worse.

The hose was attached to a fire hydrant at the time of the accident, but the water wasn't flowing. Deputy Fire Chief Brian Godlonton said if the water had been on, the results could have been catastrophic.

"That hose, depending on the distance between the hydrant and the fire truck, would have literally just been left out of control and taking out anything in its way," Godlonton said.

The crews also would have been left with no water to battle the blaze, he added.

Police said the driver, a Vancouver man in his 50s, is being investigated for impaired driving. Officers gave him a temporary driving ban and a ticket and impounded his car.

"The driver … blew a warning and a fail, and was issued with a three-day driving prohibition," Sgt. Jason Robillard said.

Crews were forced to work around the suspect vehicle as they continued fighting the fire, which was the second to break out at the same building in less than 24 hours. Authorities believe it was caused by squatters.

Despite the challenges, crews managed to successfully extinguish the flames overnight.

With files from CTV Vancouver's Ben Miljure