Arnaud Côté, 84, was one of about 20 who managed to escape the killer fire in l’Isle Verte, and some of his neighbours have him to thank for their safe exit as well.

Cote was unable to sleep after a night of TV and ventured out into the hallway after he heard a fire alarm at about 11:15 p.m.

“I went out and didn’t see any fire,” Cote told CTV Montreal. “I smelled a little smoke but I didn’t see it. But as I walked down the hallway that’s when I saw Bruno Belanger, walking through the thick smoke, having trouble breathing.”

Cote then banged on his neighbours doors and called, “Fire, let’s get moving!” Three female neighbours heeded his calls and they followed him out.

It all happened so fast that Cote said that he didn't have time to feel fear.

“I never thought about it. I never thought I’d be in a fire like that,” said Cote, who didn’t have time to change out of his slippers.

Halfway down the emergency staircase, Cote saw the firefighters coming up and was soon after ushered to safety.

Cote swiftly picked up the phone to contact family immediately after upon arriving at a friend’s house.

“I called my sister right away to tell her what state I’m in so she wouldn’t see it the next day on TV and ask: ‘where is he?’” he said.

Niece Dominique Cote took the three-and-a-half hour drive to see her beloved uncle the next day.

“He’s in good shape, it’s a good thing. His heart is solid and he’s in good health, he’s my hero,” she said.