Firefighters in Vancouver say a three-alarm blaze that caused extensive damage at a West End highrise Sunday began on a balcony.

The flames erupted at the Pacific Street property at around 5 p.m. in a unit on the 15th floor.

Ray McNabb lives two apartments over. He was taking a shower at the time and didn’t hear the fire alarms until it was too late.

"I opened my door and the hallway was just pitch black with smoke. I put my hand out like this and literally couldn't see my hand," he told CTV News Vancouver.

He went back inside and waited anxiously for help. To his relief, firefighters came to his rescue a few minutes later.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the blaze.

Plumes of black smoke could be seen rising from the scene.

“It was pretty visually stunning yesterday and started to grow quickly,” said Capt. Jonathan Gormick of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services. “If it had grown anymore and lapped to the apartment above or even more, that’s when things start to get out of control.”

The three-alarm blaze was out in 10 minutes, thanks to the quick arrival of crews and the building's concrete structure. The worst of the damage contained to one unit, but the aftermath spans three floors.

McNabb and about a dozen of his neighbours will have to find somewhere else to live for at least the next month.

"The main thing is that nobody got hurt,” said Otto Kowalski, a resident on the 20th floor.

Neighbours say the burnt out apartment was recently renovated. The tenants had only been living there a few weeks.

Officials are expected to provide an update on the cause of the fire Tuesday, but say they have ruled out the tenant’s barbeque.