It started with a loud pop.
Sean Brown said he remembers being jolted awake by the sound around 2:30 a.m. Aug. 7. That's when he opened his eyes to see the front porch of his century-old Nutana home up in flames.
"I was instantly worried about my son and my dog, who were out on the porch, so I ran out and tried to get to the front, but I couldn't get the door open," he explained. "I ended up smashing the window — it was a glass door — to try and get in, but that's when more smoke and more flames came into the house."
With two other tenants on the second and third floor — one of them with guests staying over — Brown said he quickly ran up the stairs, banging on their walls and yelling for them to evacuate.
"When I went up, there was so much smoke in the hall that I couldn't see," he remembered. "I just held my breath, closed my eyes and ran all the way back downstairs through the smoke."
Once more on the main level, Brown said he did a final sweep of his suite before running out of the home for what would be the last time.
25-year-old dies trying to rescue cat from fire
After safely evacuating the two-and-a-half storey house, Brown said he saw the woman living on the second floor hanging from the back of the burning building.
"There were flames shooting out of the window and she was screaming, so I grabbed her and pulled her down," Brown recalled.
Two people staying on the top floor, visitors of the resident living there, escaped out of the bathroom window, he added.
"AJ, the guy who lived [on the top floor], went back for his cat and he never came back," Brown said through tears. "We were all outside screaming. It was just horrifying."
Fire victim remembered for positive spirit, love of animals
Brown said the 25-year-old man who died in the fire — Alexander Jakobs, also known as "AJ" — was a role model to his 16-year-old son.
"[Jakobs] was working on himself. He came from a rougher background, but he had totally turned himself around and he was doing so great," Brown explained. "Kyden would go upstairs and play video games with him. They got along really well."
Brown noted that Jakobs will be remembered by many for his caring nature and love for his rescue cat, Scarface, who he died trying to save.
He added that Jakobs, who had moved to Canada from Germany, leaves behind countless friends and family, both overseas and in Canada, who will miss his tender spirit.
"[Jakobs] just had this brightness and aura around him of such positivity," Brown said. "It was really nice to have him move into the house."
Although they all came from different worlds, Brown said, in just a year, the roommates at 516 Albert Ave. became "a little family," and that makes losing Jakobs like losing a relative.
Replacing what was lost
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Jakobs' family cover future funeral costs. The rest of the donations are set to go toward helping the surviving residents, like Brown and his son, replace all that was lost in the fire.
"When I left the house, I was in my underwear — and that's all I left with: my underwear and bare feet, because that's how I was sleeping," Brown said. "There's absolutely nothing else in that house that can be salvaged. Everything is gone."
With no insurance, Brown said he and his son are currently homeless, couch surfing until they can find another affordable place to live.
According to the Saskatoon Fire Department, what sparked the blaze remains "undetermined," and — as of right now — "there is no reason to believe that it's suspicious."
However, fire investigators estimate they have a few more weeks of investigating left before officially closing the file.