Dark, smelly smoke from a fire at a deep-water port billowed over the town of Squamish, forcing officials to ask residents to stay indoors.

Kim Stegeman of Squamish Terminals said the blaze broke out just after 6 p.m. Thursday at the facility at the north end of Howe Sound and about an hour's drive from Vancouver.

"There was a ship at the dock but it did not catch fire," she said. "It is safe and away from danger. She said everyone who was working at the site was accounted for and evacuated.

Stegeman said she doesn't know how the blaze started.

Firefighters were on site and the District of Squamish said in a news release that a fire boat from Vancouver was on its way to the scene.

A spokeswoman for B.C. Emergency Health Services said four ambulance crews, a helicopter and a critical-care team were on standby but nobody was transported.

Mayor Patricia Heintzman said a significant amount of dark, strong, pungent and toxic smelling smoke could be seen in the sky.

The District of Squamish said it was waiting for Vancouver Coast Health to confirm toxicity levels of the smoke, but as a precaution, it asked residents to stay indoors because of poor air quality in areas of the valley.

Residents were asked to close doors, windows, and fireplace dampers and shut down furnaces, air conditioners, and exhaust fans and vents.