Paul Nault’s girlfriend and daughter are in intensive care after a fire ripped through their St. Georges, Man., home early Sunday morning.
Nault, 21, said he woke to his girlfriend, Michelle Abdila, screaming around 4 a.m. and quickly grabbed his 18-month-old daughter from her bed before trying to get out.
“I heard her yell my name again, and I heard the panic in her voice,” he said.
Nault said at one point he collapsed from the smoke.
“I think this is it, I think, ‘I’m going to die here.’ Then the thought kind of crossed my head, ‘Well, you know, if you die here, so does my wife and so does my daughter,” he said. “We’re expecting another baby too, so that kind of gave me the strength to get back up.”
When he tried one door it wouldn’t open.
“Every ounce of me kind of thought, ‘I’m going to die here. I don’t have the strength to get up, and I don’t think I’m going to get out,’” he said.
But Nault was able to smash a window and get out, with his small daughter Arianna and Abdila in tow.
“I was trying to calm her down. I was like, ‘Those things that are burning. They can be replaced. We got the things that can’t be out. The most important things are safe now,’” said Nault.
But one member of their family didn’t get out – a 10-year-old Golden Retriever.
Emergency crews from Powerview were able to extinguish the blaze by about 7 a.m., and Nault’s daughter and girlfriend were rushed to a hospital in Winnipeg where they remain in intensive care.
Both suffered smoke inhalation.
His daughter is currently sedated and is using a tube to breathe, and doctors are closely monitoring his 27-year-old girlfriend because of concerns related to smoke inhalation and her pregnancy.
“It’s tough to see your child in that situation, but at the same time, you get to see your child,” he said.
Both are expected to be OK, Nault said.
He didn’t escape unharmed either. He “lost two layers of skin and all four finger tips” in the blaze.
Nault said he wished the family’s smoke detectors had worked, and they had had more time to get out. He also said the couple did not have renter’s insurance.
RCMP are investigating the blaze, but so far they said they do not believe the fire is suspicious.
Meanwhile, the family’s community has set up a social to raise money for the couple at Great Falls Community Centre on April 12. A trust fund has also been set up at Sunova Credit Union.