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Vernon  

Major blaze in Vernon

A massive fire gutted a building in the north end of Vernon Tuesday evening, sending thick, black smoke over the city.

The fire in the 2600 block of 48th Avenue broke out about 6:30 p.m. and quickly spread to the entire one-storey building, which housed government offices and some private businesses.

A witness at the scene said he saw light, white smoke coming from the back of the building, which rapidly turned into open flame before Vernon Fire Rescue arrived.

Several heavy pieces of equipment were called to the scene, including the department's ladder truck, which attacked the flames from above.

The fire quickly consumed the building, blowing out windows and sending flames high into they sky. Several small explosions could also be heard as the fire spread. The heat was so intense it could be felt almost a block away, and the front of the building collapsed in a heap of flame, embers and smoke.

Police ordered a growing crowd of onlookers back, saying there were propane bottles in the building.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but unconfirmed reports say there was roofing work being done on the building earlier in the day.

The building is located between a Petro Canada gas station and Vernon's ICBC office, across the street from the Village Green Hotel.

There is no information yet of any injuries.

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