SPOKANE, Wash. -

A house fire near the Gonzaga University campus destroyed two apartments and heavily destroyed two others.

The house, remodeled into a four-apartment building, is located in the 700 block of East Mission near the Gonzaga campus.

The fire started at the top of the building and by the time firefighters were able to get the blaze under control two apartments were destroyed. Two more were heavily damaged. Only one of the four apartments was rented.

The Spokane Fire Department had 33 firefighters working this fire and plenty of engines to help pump in the water. The problem was that the fire was burning up in the attic and until they got some water on it, the blaze continued to spread.

Smoke from the fire could be seen from all over the Gonzaga University neighborhood. The first floor tenants didn't even realize the top floor was burning.

"I told my wife I was going to go get some coffee over here and I walked out and some people yelled at me that the house was on fire and I looked up there and there was just smoke coming out of the vent," resident Bill Cox said.

Cox thinks the fire got it's start in the common attic where there were no walls to keep it from spreading.

All the while, the roof on this place was allowing the heat inside to build up in the attic. The best way to save a building  is to vent that heat so the fire doesn't start burning its way back down into the lower floors.

The trick for fire crews was to punch enough holes in the roof to get water on the fire, and they balanced that effort with a secondary attack through an interior ceiling.

"We're finally making better progress on it as we've been able to open the ceiling from the inside and the get water on the fire up the attic area," Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams said.

Despite the fire crews' best efforts the fire led to smoke and water damage on both floors.

Investigators will be working to determine the cause of the fire.