Norman Couvillon is homeless after a careless cooking fire in his Ellis Street apartment caused an estimated $250,000 in damage Wednesday.
The Windsor man said he left a pot on his stove at the three-storey walk-up and smelled something burning, but by that time it was too late.
"It was up in flames. I ran out into the hallway to grab a fire extinguisher. I couldn't find one," he explained. "I had run all the way downstairs. I finally found one. By the time I got back upstairs, it was out of control."
At least five people and their pets were pulled from the burning brown brick building by fire crews using ladders and an aerial bucket as smoke poured out of open windows.
"We just tried to make sure everybody was out. I'd pulled the fire alarm," said Couvillon. "I just tried screaming to make sure everybody knew what was going on and that everybody got out as fast as possible. It's a blur after that."
Several people were transported to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation, but all are expected to recover.
On Friday Windsor Fire and Rescue Services confirmed unattended cooking caused the blaze.