A blaze that broke out on a boat near the Pitt River Bridge Thursday morning left a woman in hospital, according to firefighters.

The boat was docked on the Port Coquitlam side of the river when flames erupted on board at around 8 a.m., sending a plume of dark smoke into the air.

Firefighters said a woman who is believed to have been living on the boat was rushed to Royal Columbian Hospital with burns to her upper body and hands.

Her pet dog is also unaccounted for.

Port Coquitlam Fire Chief Nick Delmonico said the fire was first spotted by a tugboat operator, who heard an explosion and called for help.

"They were sitting out there under the bridge waiting to pick up some logs or something and saw the fire and heard the explosion," Delmonico said.

The tugboat operator also tried to help by dousing the flames with water while firefighters attacked the blaze from the shore.

Thirteen firefighters were dispatched to the blaze, and were assisted from the water by a handful of private boats.

But Delmonico said by the time crews arrived, the fire had already spread to the dock, and they faced challenges getting close to the flames.

"It's a fairly old, run-down area and the dock is not entirely safe to be putting people on," he said.

Firefighters instead attacked the blaze from above using an aerial ladder.

The boat was destroyed in the fire and the dock and a neighbouring vessel sustained significant damage. Firefighters said the cause hasn't been determined, and could be hard to pinpoint as the wreckage is already submerged.

A Coast Guard dive team was dispatched to the scene, but its focus is on making sure fuel doesn't leak from the boat.

With files from CTV Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim