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Firefighters on Vancouver Island say a woman has died in an apartment fire and residents of the eight-unit complex say her long-time partner was badly injured as flames tore through part of the structure on Tuesday.

The fire occurred in Merville, a small community just outside Courtenay, and Courtenay’s assistant fire chief says half of the upper floor was fully engulfed by the time they arrived.

After the fire was put out, the victim was found dead one of the upper suites.

Amber Foster lives downstairs in the building and says she grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the upper floor when she heard screaming.

She says flames were coming from beneath the bedroom door of one unit and she shouted for the 76-year-old man and his 64-year-old partner to get out, eventually pulling the man from the suite.

Foster says the man remains in hospital with smoke inhalation but his partner could not be saved.

Courtenay RCMP are investigating the cause of the fire.

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