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Man rescued from burning McMillan Avenue home

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WINNIPEG -- A 47-year-old man has burns to his hand and feet and suffered smoke inhalation after he was rescued from a rear porch roof of a burning home on McMillan Avenue early this morning.

Geoffrey Owen has since been released from hospital and returned to the fire scene this morning to be interviewed by investigators.

Fire ripped through the home in the 600 block of McMillan early this morning, destroying it and badly damaging a home next door.

City police say the blaze broke out around 2:20 a.m. in the home not far from Confusion Corner.

"Within two minutes of waking, I was on the roof of my house in my underwear," Owen told the Free Press. "I was scared for my life. I knew if I had to I could jump."

Owen said he first he woke up to "the sound of crackling" and when he came down the stairs he could see fire.

"I woke up in the middle of the night to violent sounds," he said, adding he went down the stairs, tried opening the main-floor door and "was hit by a wall of flames."

Owen said he went back to the second floor and escaped through a window. "I have an escape plan... luckily I did. I knew I could escape through the window.

"The smoke came so fast... it filled the house," he said. "My life is destroyed right now. Everything of mine is destroyed."

Next door to Owen, Mike Dillabough lives with his daughter, Michelle Cleland, and his girlfriend, Marla. Their home is heavily damaged, and Dillabough believes it can’t be salvaged.

He was sleeping inside when he woke to the sound of his daughter yelling, "Fire, fire."

The family ran out with a couple of pets, but two cats couldn’t be found.

Firefighters carried the cats (Lucy and Winston) out, safe and sound, a couple of hours later, to a very relieved Michelle who broke down in tears.

Dillabough said the family is blessed that they got out unharmed.

"It makes you realize how important fire safety is. The house engulfed only minutes after we got up."

A neighbour, Carla Bellman, said just after 2 a.m. this morning she heard someone yelling "Get out" and ran out to see what the commotion was all about.

She watched as firefighters got Owen safely down, adding the man looked "traumatized."

A spokesman with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said flames melted gas meters on both damaged homes, causing a gas leak.

An apartment block just around the corner was evacuated as a precaution, and residents used a city bus for shelter in the wee hours of the morning.

A Manitoba Hydro crew is working to fix the leak.

There is no word on a cause, but the home is considered a total loss, police said.

Winnipeg Police said the dollar loss for the destroyed home and contents is $600,000. There is about $400,000 damage to the second home.

The fire is being investigated by the members of the Arson Strike Force.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 9:29 AM CDT: Updates with quotes from victim.

11:19 AM: Adds YouTube video

11:32 AM: adds dollar loss figure, adds that Arson Strike Force investigating

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