Firefighters have confirmed that the four-alarm blaze that tore through a wood-framed apartment building before sunrise Thursday was accidental.

Crews arrived at the older three-storey building near Hastings Street and Commercial Drive just before 6 a.m. to find three suites fully engulfed with flames.

Three people had to be rescued and sixty units were evacuated as fire quickly spread from the first floor up to the top of the building.

Members used long ladders to reach people stranded on their balconies.

In Pictures: Apartment blaze

Vancouver City Fire Chief John McKearney said many residents became trapped because the hallways were "fully charged" with smoke.

No one inside the building was injured. There were no sprinklers inside the building.

Residents at the scene expressed concerns to the fire chief that there may be a drug lab inside one of the affected suites.

HAZMAT teams could be seen at the building but a drug lab was not found.

The Vancouver Fire department told CTV News Thursday evening that the accidental fire started in a kitchen.

Residents, many of who are on vacation, will not be allowed back inside to assess damage or gather belongings until a structural engineer can examine the building.

Firefighters are draining the water from inside the building so that it doesn't freeze overnight.