WATCH: An Esquimalt man is being praised for his quick thinking in a situation that could have been deadly. Ceilidh Millar reports.
Grant Small has lived in his Esquimalt apartment for more than 30 years.
On Friday around 1:30 a.m., he was startled by an unusual orange glow outside his window.
“It was kind of a weird glow and then [I heard] a crackling sound” explained Small.
Small glanced out the window to find flames shooting into the air from the top floor corner unit of the townhouse complex across the street at 333 Robert St.
Small knows the family in the unit, who at the time were still asleep in the suite.
“I was worried about the child,” said Small. “The lady told me she sleeps almost where the fire was there.”
Small said he immediately sprung into action.
“There it is going up and up,” Small explained. “[I thought] if I don’t get over there it’s going to get right out of control.”
Small said the fire alarms weren’t ringing, so he started shouting and banging on the residents’ windows and doors.
Marie Sabin, who lives in the same building as Small, heard the commotion from her unit.
“I could hear him screaming ‘fire, fire, get out, everybody wake up,'” said Sabin. “He altered everyone.”
Several neighbours called 911 and emergency crews arrived on scene.
The fire was contained and officials have previously reported that the blaze may have started from a cigarette butt left on the balcony.
There were no injuries and the family in the unit escaped without harm
Neighbours are praising Small’s quick thinking in a situation that could have been much worse.
“He’s a hero,” explained Sabin. “In the line of duty he did what he needed to do and perhaps saved a lot of people.”
While Small believes most people would have responded the way he did, he’s humbled by the praise he’s received from his community.
“That made me feel really good,” Small said.
After the sudden death of his sister this year, Small says this has renewed his sense of purpose.
“To help save somebody after losing my sister, it felt really good” explained Small.