Firefighters and police are on the scene of an apartment building fire in the centre of St. John’s.

The first call came in shortly after 4:15 p.m. with reports of smoke on the third floor of the building for seniors on Shaw Street.

Flames could also be seen shooting from the rear of the building.

CBC reporter Amy Stoodley said it was difficult to see the building through the smoke and snow, but added she could hear glass breaking.

Some elderly residents of the building were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, while others were being escorted to buses for transport to temporary accommodations.

179 seniors have been evacuated and five have been sent to hospital following 911 calls at 4 p.m. that said the building was on fire.

Superintendent Don Byrne says the fire broke out on the third floor, and there is extensive damage to that part if the building. Thirteen ambulances were on the scene, some from as far away as Clarenville that just happened to be in town today. Metrobuses lined up to take residents to city hall, where they are staying warm and being treated by paramedics.

The extent of injuries of those in hospital is not yet known. RNC are investigating the cause of the fire, but say it’s too early to know anything yet.