A 52-year-old P.E.I. man escaped from his burning house in New Glasgow early Thursday morning without even the shirt on his back, while his brother tried to fight the fire with a snowblower.

'Looked out the window and I saw the farmhouse that we grew up in was just an orange ball.' — Carl Nicholson

Barry Nicholson was asleep in the sunroom of his farmhouse when he heard a crackling noise and discovered the house was on fire.

His brother Carl, who lives across the road, woke up when his fire department pager went off.   "Looked out the window and I saw the farmhouse that we grew up in was just an orange ball, fully engulfed," he said.

Barry Nicholson's two brothers are both volunteers firefighters and were the first on the scene.

"Our first thoughts were, 'Where is our brother,' because we know he lives in the house," said Carl Nicholson.

"We went across the road to on scene to find him in the yard with no shirt on and just a pair of pants and had taken in a bit of smoke."

Gary Nicholson moved to fight the fire before equipment from the volunteer station arrived.

"Gary jumped in the tractor and started blowing snow into the house, because all of the front windows had already been busted out from the heat," said Carl Nicholson.

Barry Nicholson was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation but later released. His cat died in the fire. The house was severely damaged, but it was insured. The deputy provincial fire marshal is investigating the cause.