Two teenagers are being praised as heroes after they tried to save an elderly man from a burning house in Richmond Hill early Tuesday.

Luke Rybuck, 16, and his brother, Colten, 17, were walking home from Upper Canada Mall at about 1:20 a.m. after attending the midnight release of the video game Grand Theft Auto V.

They heard the sound of smoke detectors and followed the sound to 35 Lake Ave, where they saw smoke pouring out the front window.

"When we opened the window, we heard a man," Luke told CBC News reporter Natalie Kalata. "He was asking for help and he's telling us he couldn't breathe."

Colten used his cell phone to call 9-1-1 while Luke kicked in the front door.

"After that, the paramedics were taking a little while, so we decided to go in the house to see if we could get him out," Colten said.

He used the light on his cell phone to help them see through the thick, black smoke.

"We couldn't see a thing," Luke said. "It was burning our eyes. We couldn't breathe at all, had our shirts over our faces."

Overcome by smoke, the brothers had to abandon their rescue effort and managed to find their way out of the house.

Richmond Hill Fire Chief Steve Kraft said fire trucks were on the scene in minutes.

Richmond Hill house fire

A man is in critical condition after he was pulled from a fire at this house on Lake Avenue in Richmond Hill. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

“There was one elderly male patient inside,” he told CBC News early this morning. “Fire crews pulled him out of the house. He was semi-conscious.”

The 70-year-old man was taken to hospital with major smoke inhalation and remains in stable condition. Luke and Colten were treated for minor smoke inhalation.

"I think it's amazing," Kraft said of the teenagers' rescue attempt. "We never want people to get injured in a fire, but I think most people know that our natural instinct is to try to assist somebody."

Luke says that he wouldn't call himself and his brother "heroes."

"I mean, it's a nice title, but there are people out there who have done more heroic things than we have," he said.

The fire caused extensive damage to the home. The cause of the fire is not considered suspicious.