Fire crews had to battle snow before they were able to battle a dramatic fire in the British Properties early Sunday morning.

The drifts were deep in the North Shore community after several weeks of heavy snow, and it proved difficult to get firefighters and machinery to where they needed to be.

"There's no question about it. It becomes a real problem trying to get equipment and manpower to the location," said Assistant Chief Mark Barton of the West Vancouver Fire and Rescue.

It's a real hazard for my crews to try and negotiate around these buildings. They're six feet, seven feet in some areas."

Luckily, once the firefighters arrived six people had already escaped from the home. They included a family of four and two international students staying with them -- along with two pets,

Weakened by the fire, the roof of the house had collapsed under the weight of the snow by the morning.

Hakan Telenius said he and his family have lived at the property for nearly five years.

One of the international students, Luke from Shanghai, said he had been staying there for five months.

"The fire came from just three metres away from my room and bathroom," he said. "The smoke. You can't see nothing... it's so quick."

Telenius said they had escaped in just their pyjamas and with only two pairs of shoes between the six.

"I was wanting to go back in because we couldn't see any flames, but the smoke was everywhere." He said. "The smoke was everywhere and it was so hard to breathe so it was impossible. We're all ok, and that's what we focus on."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation -- but it's believed to be accidental.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber