An 11-year-old boy ran through the hallways of a burning apartment building in North Vancouver Tuesday night, yelling “Fire” and warning residents to vacate as a blaze gutted suites and killed three elderly women.

“I’m proud of him,” said Bryan Matthews of his son Dustan Roach-Matthews, as the pair stood outside the fire-damaged Alana apartment building on East 19th Street yesterday morning.

“I think he contributed (to saving lives).”

At 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, the pair heard a beeping fire alarm coming from a suite on the first floor. Bryan said he instinctively disregarded the alarm, assuming that someone’s burnt toast had set it off.

His son, however, went to investigate.

“I saw smoke coming out the door,” said Dustan, a Grade 5 student at Westview Elementary. “I was running up and down the hallways yelling, ‘Fire! Fire! Fire!’ and telling everyone to evacuate.

“If I just ignored it — thinking it was the beeping of an alarm or something — we would not have been able to get out ... we wouldn’t have been able to warn other people.”

Father and son fled the building as an explosion on the first floor blew out the windows. The pair watched as flames poured out the side of the building. Bryan ran back into the building to save their cat, Stimpy, and climbed down off his second floor balcony.

“I was very scared,”

Dustan said. “I was like, ‘Dad, Dad, don’t go back in. You better not go back in.’”

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