Neighbours on Bannerman Avenue in Winnipeg are banding together to help a family whose house was gutted by fire on the weekend.
Neil Penner lives two houses away from where the fire broke out and forced family of eight to flee to safety. He has been canvassing the neighbourhood, collecting money for the family, which lost everything and had no insurance.
"We know them. They are good people," he said. "It's just, you know, a community pulling together. It's a terrible thing that happened to them.
"I would only hope that if something like that were to happen to me, the community would pull together for me and the same for anybody in this area."
The fire, in the city's Luxton neighbourhood, was discovered at 3:55 a.m. by police officers on patrol.
The officers encountered smoke in the area and tracked it to a burning house where a man was in the process of getting his family out of the home.
The man, Dean Haasbeek, and his wife, Raina Graves, were identified by friends as the couple who lived at the house with their six children, aged 11 months to 13 years.
All members of the family made it out safely — with only the clothes or diapers they were wearing — and were taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries, police said.
But it first took some dramatic moments.
'I don't even know how many kids I grabbed but I just grabbed them and I just ran back to the fence.' —Const. Ray Pabuaya
Haasbeek, 35, and Graves, 33, had to smash windows to get some of the children out of the burning house.
And the police officers on the scene, Consts. David Weisz and Ray Pabuaya, are being hailed as heroes for their roles.
Pabuaya, a new member of the police service, kicked down a fence and ran past shooting flames to get to Graves and some of the kids who were trapped in the back yard.
"I just ran in there and just grabbed. I don't even know how many kids I grabbed but I just grabbed them and I just ran back to the fence, that opening, and just got them out of safety," said Pabuaya.
Teen jumped from second-storey window
Meanwhile, Weisz helped coax the family's 13-year-old son to jump from a second-storey window.
"He was sitting on the ledge [and] the smoke was coming out of the window," Weisz said.
"He eventually did jump [and] we caught him and broke his fall before he could hit the ground. Then we just got him to safety, bringing him to the cruiser car that was parked on the side of the street."
Weisz said the parents deserve the credit for getting their children out safely.
The blaze caused an estimated $300,000 dollars in damage. So far, Penner has raised about $200.
Other friends of the family have set up an account at the Royal Bank on Main Street and Semple Avenue for donations to help the Haasbeek-Graves rebuild their lives. Winnipeg's Our Lady of Victory School has also set up a trust fund for the family, who are now staying with relatives.