'I heard a little girl screaming for help': Hydro-Québec workers rescue family from house fire

Two Hydro-Québec workers are being called "angels" after saving a woman and her two children. They spotted the family's Hudson, Que., home ablaze early Wednesday morning while checking for downed power lines.

Employees were nearby checking for downed power lines after freezing rain storm

Hydro-Québec employees Mario Ménard, left, and Guy Desgagné were in Hudson, Que., looking for downed power lines when they spotted a family home on fire Wednesday morning. (Salimah Shivji/CBC)

Don't call Mario Ménard a hero.

He'll insist he and his co-worker were simply in the right place, at the right time, when they saved a Hudson, Que., family from a house fire.

Ménard and Guy Desgagné, who both work for Hydro-Québec, were driving on the off-island Montreal suburb's main drag early Wednesday morning, clearing branches off power lines after a day of freezing rain, when they saw an orange glow between some trees.

As they drove toward the light, Ménard said he could hear cries for help through the rolled-down window of his truck.

"I heard a little girl screaming," he said. "'Help us! Help us! We're going to die!'"

That's when they spotted a family home ablaze.

They rushed toward the building on foot and saw a mother and her two daughters hanging out of a second-floor window.

The early morning blaze, seen here through some trees, spread quickly through the home. (Submitted by Guy Desgagné)

The two knew the family only had seconds to get out of the building as the fire was spreading and positioned themselves under the window.

"I said, 'Jump! Jump! We're going to catch you!'" Ménard recalled.

The two young girls, aged eight and 10, leapt from the building and were caught by the workers.

Desgagné brought them away from the building and to the safety of their work truck.

Ménard said the mother then jumped. He tried to catch her but she still fell to the ground and hurt her back.

With the help of someone else, Ménard pulled the woman away from the growing fire and intense heat.

Firefighters arrived minutes later.

According to Daniel Leblanc, assistant chief for the Hudson fire department, the flames had engulfed the majority of the house when they arrived at scene.

He does not believe they would have been able to save the family.

Not much of the house was left after firefighters finished putting out the fire. (CBC)

"It's unreal," said Leblanc. "We all shook their hands, we all thanked them."

Leblanc said the mother is still in hospital being treated for her back injury.

The two children are safe, but were also brought to hospital as a precautionary measure.

As firefighters began to battle the fire, Ménard says a man pulled up in a car and was asking about his wife and daughters.

He had apparently stepped out to pick up coffee and doughnuts, since the family had lost power. 

The man thanked Ménard and Desgagné and called them "angels."

"We're not heroes," said Ménard holding back tears. "We were lucky to be passing over here that night."

Ménard said he wants to check in on the family in a few months to see how they are doing and maybe catch up over a meal.

Watch the story below.

Hydro team hailed as heroes

5 years ago
Two Hydro-Québec workers are being called heroes after saving a woman and her children. They spotted the family's home ablaze around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. 1:57