Eight people suffered smoke inhalation after a fire at a Downtown Eastside hotel on Thursday.

Firefighters said the sprink­­ler system at the nearly 100-year-old Washington Hotel failed to activate, letting the fire grow. It reportedly started on the ground floor and spread to the second and third floors.

At least four people were rescued from the building shortly after 1 p.m., with firefighters leaning ladders against the windows to get people out. It is not known when residents will be allowed back in the building.

The building is owned by the City of Vancouver, the provincial and federal governments. It is operated by Portland Hotel Society as single-room-occupancy low-income housing.