Maurice Franklin didn't think about his own life when he broke down the door of his neighbour's house to save her from a massive fire last month.
The fire erupted suddenly on the evening of Sept. 23 at the house of Lorna Palibroda in a tiny, close-knit community near Paul Lake, outside of Kamloops.
Franklin could hear his 64-year-old neighbour calling for help from inside the house and, at one point, he heard her call his name.
"There's no way I could stand there and listen to her crying for help when she mentioned my name," said Franklin, 57.
Franklin said he realized something was very wrong next door when he heard a massive explosion that sounded like "a big tree had fallen down and 20 bears had jumped on."
"When I looked at the house, I could see the flames coming out the windows already … the flames were leaping," he told Shelley Joyce, host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.
"It was definitely scary."
Franklin saw his other neighbour frantically banging on the door and, as a former first responder, felt he had to take instant action.
"I heard Lorna shout 'Help me.' And I said, 'Listen, I'm here. I'm going to break the door through. Just stand clear.'"
Franklin made a run at the door in what he calls an "adrenaline rush" and eventually forced it open.
"It was very black, lots of black smoke," Franklin said of the scene once he got through the door. "The heat was intense, really intense. It was hell. If there is such a place, that was it."
Palibroda was at the edge of the hallway trying to get up, while the flames were approaching.
"I gathered her up and proceeded to take her outside," he said. "I just told her not to look [back at the house] and get down to a safe place."
Volunteer firefighters from Paul Lake and Pinantan Lake arrived on the scene shortly after the fire broke out around 6:30 p.m. They got the fire in control within an hour, according to Pinantan Lake Fire Brigade.
Palibroda was taken to a local hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit.
"She cannot talk right now, but she can communicate through nods," said Diane Carlson, another neighbour of Palibroda's.
Carlson and Franklin have been friends with Palibroda for more than a decade. Franklin calls her a "strong, independent woman" who rarely asks for help and always extends an invitation for a chat and a cup of coffee.
"She does all the garden work herself. She packs wood to keep warm in the winter," said Franklin. "She will help anybody at any time."
Though he wasn't physically hurt in the fire, Franklin says he's been having trouble sleeping since the incident. Regardless, he says he wouldn't do anything differently.
"Her life was more important," he said. "I just got on with mine."
In its written statement to CBC News, the RCMP says the fire doesn't appear criminal in nature and its cause is still being investigated.