A police cruiser sat outside a bungalow Sunday where a 67-year-old man died following a Friday afternoon house fire.
Neighbours in the quiet St. Vital neighbourhood said they were shaken by the screams of a young mother who tried to rescue her ailing father.
"She was standing at the end of the driveway yelling, 'The house is on fire and my dad's dead,' " a neighbour on Hindley Avenue said Sunday. The man, who asked not to be identified, said the home next door was a rental property and new tenants had moved in this fall -- an older man using a wheelchair and a couple with a little girl. He and his wife didn't know their names. They'd waved hello but never spoken. The young mom, 21, and her daughter came to their house trick-or-treating on Halloween, he said.
Friday at 3 p.m. she was back at their house with her little one -- this time in the freezing cold, in stocking feet and panicking that her dad would die in the fire.
"I went back in the house and got my shoes and coat," the man next door said. He was about to go into the burning house, but another neighbour on the phone with 911 responders told him no one should enter the building. "They said under no circumstances."
He hung back, but the young woman ran back into the burning bungalow in an attempt to save her dad, he said.
"There was no stopping her." She managed to pull her father to the back door of the burning home, he said.
She returned with soot all over her nose and mouth, said his wife. The young mom had taken care of her father and seemed very devoted to him, she said. The man later died from his injuries, police said.
"I can't imagine what this girl is going through right now," said the neighbour.
The little girl, who appeared almost two years old, looked fine, said the neighbour's wife, who gave the mom a coat and shoes to wear. She said they were examined at their house and the young mom said she and her daughter were lying down when the fire broke out.
The child and her mother were treated for smoke inhalation at Victoria General Hospital and released. The young woman tried returning to the home Saturday to get personal items but wasn't allowed inside, the neighbours said.
On Sunday, police tape was still up around the home and a red pickup truck was parked in the driveway. Two police officers in a cruiser were parked outside the home, where one window was boarded up. Damage is estimated at $110,000.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, police said Sunday.