A veteran Calgary Transit bus driver helped a multi-generational family and their pets escape unharmed from their home during an early morning fire in the northeast neighbourhood of Redstone.

Vincent Fleck, who has been driving for Calgary Transit for more than two decades, says he was making the last Route 145 trip of the night. At around 1:00 a.m., he noticed the smell of smoke in the area of the 100 block of Redstone Drive N.E. but he couldn’t see any flames or other indications of fire.

The path of the bus route had Fleck return to the area a short time later.

“As I came back out onto this road, I could see the fire from the traffic circle,” recounted Fleck. “Basically, I stopped the bus, ran down, rang the doorbell, banged on the door and phoned 911 and that’s pretty much it.”

Fleck says the flames along the front exterior of one side of the duplex were approximately a metre high when he started his attempt to wake the residents. “It took some ringing. I was ringing frantically on the button and banging on the door.”

According to the bus driver, the flames had climbed nearly eight feet (roughly two-and-a-half metres) by the time someone answered the door. “They were half asleep so surprised, I guess, and a little groggy.” Four adults, a child, a dog and a bunny made their way out of the home and into Fleck’s bus.

Fire crews responded and extinguished the fire before it spread into the building or to neighbouring homes.

The bus driver returned to the home Tuesday afternoon and spoke with the appreciative family. “I think they’re making a little more out of it than really what it was,” said Fleck, dismissing any mention of heroism. “It’s nothing really, it’s something that you or I or anyone would have done if they saw that situation. You’re going to ring the doorbell and bang on the doorbell and you’re going to call 911.”

Fleck believes his colleagues would have acted in the same manner if they spotted a fire along their route.

“At (Calgary) Transit we’re trained to look after the community because we’re driving through them and so, when something like this happens, training actually does what it’s supposed to do,” said Fleck. “We’re not just out driving in circles. We’re keeping an eye on things.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.