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Calgary bus driver hailed as ‘godsend’ for saving family from burning house

A Calgary bus driver is being hailed as a “godsend” for saving a sleeping family of six — plus their dog and pet rabbit — from a northeast house fire early Tuesday morning.

“We were all sleeping and I guess the bus driver who does this route, he was just finishing up his last run and he drove around the community on the run and he thought he smelled smoke,” said Marsha Bastarache, who lives in the home in the Redstone neighbourhood with her son and his family.

“So then he came back around again and he noticed the fire out front,” said Bastarache of the fire, which broke out around 1 a.m.

“So he was banging on the doors really loud and he woke me up and I went to the door and he said, ‘The front of your house is on fire, get out.'”

The family got out, grabbing a pet rabbit and dog on the way. They were sheltered in the bus as the fire department extinguished the flames.

This house in Redstone was damaged by fire on Tuesday morning, but a passing bus driver alerted the family inside before the flames spread. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

“The firemen, after it was pretty well over, came and told us that if the bus driver hadn’t of seen the fire, we would have probably lost the house and our lives at the same time,” said Bastarache.

The bus driver, Vincent Fleck, said he just did what anyone would do in that situation.

“I couldn’t get the bus back down here, so I ran down and knocked on the door, rang the doorbell. Lights came on, phoned 911 and that’s pretty much it,” he said.

He said he was “a little out of breath” when he got to the house after his run from the bus stop and that his adrenaline was pumping.

Fleck drives the route every Monday and Tuesday night and says Calgary Transit drivers are trained to keep an eye on the neighbourhoods they drive through.

Bastarache is thankful for Fleck’s keen eye.

“I think he is a godsend,” she said.

“He’s definitely got his angel wings. He earned them last night, I tell ya.”

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