'It was loud and just really scary': Neighbour describes harrowing escape

The neighbourhood starts to feel the residual effects of the 'heartbreaking' housefire that left six children without a mother.

A quick-witted passerby finds nearby ladder to rescue children

Five children narrowly escaped their flaming Port Moody home. Their father has been charged with arson in connection with the blaze. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Kylie Schlotter was getting ready to go to a friend's wedding when she noticed flames emerging from her neighbour's home across the street. She knew there was a large family that lived inside.

"We saw two kids climb out through the window onto the roof," she said. "Before we knew it, there were police cars coming, and the flames started to grow in a matter of seconds."

Kylie Schlotter recounts witnessing kids escape a 'heartbreaking' housefire in Port Moody. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Five children managed to escape their Port Moody home as the flames grew behind them. Their mother was taken to the hospital with severe burns but couldn't be saved.

Their father has been charged with second-degree murder and two counts of arson. His identity and the details of the case are protected under a publication ban.

'Like a big boom'

The five children perched on the rooftop were rescued by a passerby who grabbed a ladder, leading them down one-by-one. Moments later, the windows started to blow out as more flames erupted, according to Schlotter.

"It was loud and just really scary," she said. "It was just loud like a big boom and some glass shattering. It was kind of shocking."

The children, aging from five to 18, were immediately rushed to hospital and treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

IHIT was still combing through the crime scene on Tuesday with the help of Port Moody Fire Rescue and local police.

'Heartbroken for those kids'

The family's tenants who lived downstairs are still trying to make sense of the tragedy.

"I'm completely shocked," said Nikki Trampus, 23, who works as a hairstylist. "I'm heartbroken for those kids."

Vanessa Trampus stopped by her damaged suite on Tuesday to pick up bags of clothes. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Trampus and her sister Vanessa, 19, weren't home when the fire started, but they lost a lot of their belongings. Police escorted them into the house Tuesday to collect a few plastic bags filled with clothes.

"I get emotional — not when I'm thinking about my stuff — I get emotional when I think about the kids," she said.

The sisters had lived in the suite for just over a year and are now staying on friends' couches until they find a new place to live.

Trampus never noticed anything alarming about the family upstairs.

"They were really nice people," she said. "I never heard anything ...  I never heard crying like someone was getting hurt, or anything upstairs like anyone was getting hurt."

The father remains in custody. Anyone with photos or videos on their devices is asked to contact IHIT at 1-877-551-4448.

With files from Rafferty Baker