Friends and neighbours of an elderly man who died in a house fire in Winnipeg's south Osborne neighbourhood this morning are remembering him as a dedicated husband and a neighbourhood historian.

Fire crews were called to the 500 block of Hethrington Avenue just before 3 a.m. CT Thursday.


The roof of the house on Hetherington caved in during the blaze. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

Police said a man and a woman were taken to hospital, where the man was pronounced dead. The woman was last listed in critical condition.

Neighbours told CBC News that Bert Parry and his wife had lived in the house for many years. Parry actually grew up in the home, they said, having lived there since he was four years old.

Parry was in his 80s, according to neighbours. The woman is 58, police said.

"He was a very helpful person. If you needed help, you'd just go to him. There was a couple of times when I had to go to the dentist or something like that and he was always willing to drop me off," said Nettie Wagner, a next-door neighbour for 50 years.

"When we first moved here, his mother was living here."

Those who knew Parry said he used to be active in the community, making crafts and working in backyard woodshop. He was known as the neighbourhood historian, they said.

But in recent years, he had been spending a lot of time caring for his wife, who has Alzheimer's disease, neighbours said.

'One of those real tragedies'

Mary Anne Steggels, who lives across the street from the home, said Parry doted on his wife, and now it's not clear what will happen to the woman.

"This is one of those real tragedies. Hopefully the neighbours that know her will take the time to go and see her and visit her," Steggels said.

"Ultimately she would be going into some kind of a care facility."

District fire chief Myles Fitzhenry said there was a lot of thick smoke when firefighters arrived. The couple was found on the second floor of the home.

"We had crews do what we call a primary search of the first and second floor. And it was during that search that the crews on the second floor discovered them," he said.

Neighbour Marie Harvie, who heard the sirens in the early morning, said the couple was well-liked. She said she suspects the house will likely be torn down.

"Oh, they're going to be sadly missed," she said. "It's very sad."

Firefighters were able to rescue the couple's pet, a cat, from the house.

Damage to the house is estimated at $200,000. The cause of the fire is under investigation.