CHARLOTTETOWN -- A man who says he lives next to a vacant building on Prince Edward Island where three people died after it caught fire early Saturday says the blaze had engulfed the structure within minutes.

Reggie Jameson, who lives across from the building on a former driving range in Charlottetown, said he woke up at about 5:30 a.m. after hearing sirens and looked out his window to find the vacant building was on fire.

"Just one corner of the building, you could see a little bit of flames," said Jameson in a phone interview from his home on Saturday. "Within two to five minutes the whole building was engulfed.

"It just kept getting worse and worse as more fire engines showed up."

Police say when officers arrived, they found an injured male. He was airlifted to a hospital in Halifax.

Investigators were then told that other people could still be inside the flaming building. They say officers tried to enter the building but were forced back by intense smoke and heavy fire.

Police say three bodies were later found inside.

Jameson, 24, said he could see flames shooting out of the building from every direction. He said when he left for work around 7 a.m., the fire was nearly extinguished.

Jameson said when he learned that three people died in the fire, it came as a shock because the building is abandoned and boarded up.

"There's no power hook ups to it, there's nothing. There's three feet of snow in front of it," said Jameson, who has lived near the building for about two years. "It never occurred to me that anyone was inside."

But he said he has occasionally seen flashlights and heard people talking inside the building late at night, but usually only during the summer.

Police said investigators were working to determine the identity of the victims and the cause of the fire.