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'It was shooting propane tanks into the air': Fire destroys building at PNE (VIDEO)

Police are now investigating the fire.
A fire at the Pacific National Exhibition park destroyed a building, vehicles and stored fuel.

A massive, suspicious fire at the PNE in East Vancouver has destroyed a building and multiple vehicles after burning for several hours overnight.

The fire was reported to Vancouver Fire Rescue (VFS) around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 20, according to Asst. Chief Brian Bertuzzi. When they arrived the fire was already quite large.

"Upon arrival crews found a massive free burning through the roof fire," Bertuzzi says.

The fire was quickly upgraded to a three-alarm blaze and 40 firefighters worked to knock it down.

The building on fire was described as a warehouse-style structure in the technical works yard. It was completely destroyed, as were a couple of Zambonis and around a dozen trucks. In total around 20 vehicles were destroyed.

Part of the reason for the size of the fire was what was stored in the area; up to 500L of fuel and several propane tanks which exploded.

"It was quite volatile and dangerous," says Bertuzzi. "It was shooting propane tanks into the air; there were flames 100 feet into the air upon arrival."

Crews were able to take a defensive position and kept the fire from spreading. A sign shop adjacent to the fire received some damage but only a minor amount. No injuries were reported.

"It took a couple of hours to get under containment," says Bertuzzi. "Fire crews were there until 5 a.m."

VFS investigators remain on the scene. No cause has been determined at this point, but police are investigating the fire as well.

"Vancouver Police are investigating a suspicious fire that caused thousands of dollars in damage at Hastings Park overnight," states the police department in a press release. Investigators with the major crime unit are working on the case.

The PNE is thanking firefighters for their efforts.

"The Pacific National Exhibition would like to thank the firefighters from Vancouver Fire Rescue Services who responded and put out the fire, it was due to their quick work that the fire was contained to only one of the buildings and significant damage and losses were prevented," the organization writes in a statement.

They note that while the building, equipment, tools and supplies were lost it could have been worse.

"We are grateful that there were no injuries as a result of this incident, and the quick work of our Vancouver city fire crews prevented much larger losses," they write. "Today’s incident will not impact any of the events scheduled to occur at various locations on the site."

- This story was updated to include a statement from the Vancouver Polie Department