Tony Johal jumped out of the shower at 6:30 a.m. to screams for help. He heard a window smash and went outside of his Surrey home to see two of his neighbours sitting on their roof with smoke billowing from their upstairs windows.
The couple had broken their window to escape the fire, said Hermaal Uppal, another neighbour who witnessed the incident.
Neighbours equipped with flashlights and a ladder managed to rescue seven people from the home before firefighters arrived on the scene.
But two little girls, believed to be under the age of five, remained trapped in the house, and died in the fire.
Johal described the team of neighbours climbing a ladder to reach the girls’ window, at the urging of the parents, who had escaped the blaze.
“We tried to break the window, but it was too late,” he said.
Five of the rescued individuals suffered undisclosed injuries. One firefighter who entered the house was taken to hospital with burns.
RCMP said the cause of the fire has not been determined.
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and fire chief Len Garis offered condolences to the family, and thanked the firefighters and neighbours for their rescue efforts.