Firefighters rescued two people and evacuated several buildings as flames ripped through century-old row houses in Hamilton early Friday morning.

As flames shot several metres into the air and a large cloud of smoke filled the night sky, fire crews battled the blaze as it moved through four homes on King Street East, starting at about 1:30 a.m.

Hamilton Fire Department spokesman David Christopher said firefighters rescued a man and a woman during a search that occurred before crews were forced out of the burning buildings.

Christopher said firefighters began an interior attack but they had to pull out due to safety concerns.

Two people were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

As firefighters battled the blaze, one block of buildings was evacuated as a precaution. The Canadian Red Cross provided temporary shelter to evacuees.

The fire’s cause is under investigation.

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