Twenty four people are unable to return to their homes following an apartment fire Tuesday in East Royalty, P.E.I.
The building includes 12 apartments, and fire inspector Winston Bryan said the damage is extensive.
"It started in one unit in the area of a ceiling fan within the bathroom," Bryan said.
"This fire, it was burning for a period of time prior to being noticed. No working smoke alarms within the occupancy. The fire alarm system activated within the building and the tenants that were in the building at the time acted and contacted 911."
Bryan said the fire has been ruled accidental.
The building's owner had the number of required alarms. But someone either disconnected the smoke alarms or covered them, Bryan said.
One smoke alarm had a bag over it to prevent it from going off accidentally, he said.
"I don't know how we can stress it. Our department and with cooperation from the city have been working diligently to try and educate our people on working smoke alarms," said Bryan.
"It is a law within our city that all residential units have working smoke alarms, but people still find a way to disconnect or remove the battery."
No one was hurt and the Canadian Red Cross will provide emergency shelter for three days. Fire officials said some people are already looking for a new place to live.
The building is insured but the owner told CBC News that many tenants did not have their own insurance.
At this point, no one knows how long any repairs would take or when people would be able to move back.