updated 12/9/2006 4:32:10 AM ET 2006-12-09T09:32:10

A fire raged at a large apartment complex Friday evening, killing two people, critically injuring two others and forcing rescuers to pluck trapped residents from balconies, authorities said.

The fire began in the afternoon in one wing of the sprawling, four-story complex. The fire burned on three floors but was mostly active on the top floor, said Fire Department spokesman Chris Milburn.

Fire Department Chief David Ellis said the victims lived in the building, but he had no other details.

At least 12 people were injured, officials said. Two were in critical condition, five were stable and two had minor injuries, Milburn said. One firefighter was hospitalized with burns, while at least two others suffered minor injuries, ranging from smoke inhalation to dehydration.

At least 200 firefighters battled the blaze. About 140 units in the 320-apartment complex were damaged, the fire chief said.

The cause was under investigation. Fire officials initially said the blaze appeared to be suspicious but later said they believe it started accidentally in an apartment and traveled quickly through a ventilation system.

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