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Dozens of people have been forced from their homes following a fire at an apartment building in Kelowna, B.C. that sent a plume of black smoke spiralling into the blue, summer sky.

Fire Chief Jeff Carlisle said Tuesday night it's too early to say whether anybody has been injured or if all the residents of the four-storey, 64-unit building have been accounted for, adding about 70 firefighters were battling the flames at the height of the blaze.

"The roof on the entire building is pretty much gone," he said. "I would estimate that there will be significant smoke and water damage throughout the building."

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Carlisle said the fire department was first called to the building in the Rutland neighbourhood at about 4:26 p.m.

He said all of the residents have been displaced, and emergency officials have set up a reception centre at a Salvation Army facility.

By Tuesday night, firefighters had the blaze under control and were conducting a secondary search of the building, as well as mop-up operations, said Carlisle.

He said firefighters were expected to remain on the scene late into the night, and it was too early to determine the cause of the fire.

Insurance and restoration companies, as well as the fire inspector and maybe even the RCMP, are expected to be on scene Wednesday morning, said Carlisle.

"This was a major fire, a third-alarm fire," he said. "We take everything that we can, all our stations and as many staff as we can, to manage this type of fire."

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