Family trapped in burning Winnipeg home rescued by roofing crew

Family trapped in burning Winnipeg home rescued by roofing crew

A group of Call Me Roofing employees stepped in when they saw smoke and heard children screaming from a house across the street from where they worked.

Aaron Gosselin, 20, and his colleague Caylib Cote, 28, were working on the roof of a home in Transcona, a Winnipeg suburb, just before 7 p.m. Tuesday when Cote noticed smoke rising from a house across the street.

It wasn’t long before they heard screams coming from the house on Ravelston Avenue, Gosselin said.

“That made my heart sink,” he said, noting that he wanted to help. “Our safety wasn’t really thought of at that point.”

Her colleague Stephane Doerksen, who was on a ladder, called 911 while the other employees ran to the house to help those inside.

“When we got there, the house was already on fire. It happened very quickly,” Gosselin said, adding that the vinyl siding melted.

“My first thought was to help,” Gosselin said. “It could be anyone’s family, it could be my family, so I just didn’t think too much about my safety.”

Escape through the window

Cote said he wasn’t originally able to see much because of the smoke.

Cote and Gosselin soon found that a man and his children were trying to escape through a basement window but were having trouble breaking the glass.

Gosselin said his staff used their hammers to smash the glass. They first helped pull the children through the small window and then helped the man.

“I grabbed his left arm while my other workers grabbed his shirt and other arm,” Gosselin said. “It was really close.”

Two houses with significant fire damage.People have been injured in a house fire in the Winnipeg suburb of Transcona. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The men took the family across the street to safety and went to the neighboring house to make sure no one was inside before administering first aid to the family. Gosselin said the man’s feet were badly burned, while the children also had burns and lacerations on their arms, likely from the broken window pane.

Two older children managed to get out of the house on their own, he said.

“They were quite shaken.”

Gosselin and Cote said they believe firefighters and paramedics arrived within two to three minutes of the 911 call.

Paramedics evaluated the family, who were then taken to hospitals in stable condition, the city of Winnipeg said in a press release earlier this week.

Two homes sustained significant damage from the fire, which is still being investigated, the press release said.

Thank you everyone did it

Gosselin said he and his team members were not injured. He said he was grateful everyone made it safely.

“That’s the scary part. We don’t know what would have happened to them,” Gosselin said.

“I mean, maybe someone else could have stepped in and helped out. We were just glad we were there at the right time.”

Close-up of the window of the house damaged by fire.The house was damaged by the fire. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

They would like to get in touch with the family to see how they are doing, but that hasn’t been possible yet, Gosselin said.

The next day the team worked again on the roof of the house opposite.

Cote said the experience wouldn’t stop him from doing the roofing, adding he was sure his team would help again if anyone needed help in the future.