A massive fire that tore through a townhouse complex near Victoria has left several people homeless – and has been deemed suspicious by fire officials.

The fire started at a nearby construction site in the 4000-block of Cedar Hill Road near McKenzie Avenue at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday night, and quickly spread.

Saanich Deputy Fire Chief Steve Hanna says the blaze was sparked in a building under construction that had no electricity.

“Our fire trucks were damaged, it was so hot,” said Hanna.

Flames jumped as high as 70 feet in the air and plumes of smoke could be seen around Greater Victoria as fire crews from Saanich, Oak Bay and Victoria battled the blaze.

“We heard and felt an explosion while we're sitting in the house,” said neighbour Trevor Davies. “We ran outside and over the rooftops we saw tremendous amount of flames.”

Fire officials say the explosions were caused by barbeque propane tanks, and crews had to work to stop the fire from spreading further.

“There was ash raining down which started a few other small fires,” said Davies.

Four townhouses were evacuated, and BC Hydro cut power to 100 people.

“There were embers that were coming off and landing on nearby trees and things like that where small little spot fires were starting,” said Sgt. Julie Fast with Saanich Police.

The fire took about half an hour to contain, and there were no reports of any injuries. The majority of the 40 people evacuated have been able to return home, while six individuals remain displaced and have been lodged in hotels.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known, and an investigation is ongoing.

With files from CTV Vancouver Island