A Vancouver-area couple helped their elderly neighbours to safety Friday as a massive blaze tore through their home on Sea Island.

Sonya and Anthony Bosecke live across the alleyway from their landlords on Wellington Crescent in Burkeville. Sonya said she heard a crackling noise coming from the back of their property shortly before 9 p.m.

Once she realized the duplex was on fire, she told her husband to call 911 while she ran to the front of the building to check on the couple, who are both in their 80s.

"We both came out here to make sure that our landlords were not in the midst of the fire and we noticed that there was nobody here," Sonya said.

She knocked on the front door until they finally answered and encouraged the couple, who had been trying to fight the fire themselves, to leave the home.

"It was just really important for me to just make sure that they got out safely and the rest was just going to take care of itself," Sonya said. "The fact that I was outside and that I saw it right away, I think allowed us to get to them so much faster."

During that time, Anthony had been trying to spray water on the flames and several neighbours showed up with fire extinguishers, but they weren't able to get the blaze under control.

"They thought that they were knocking it down, but then it hit the eaves and it was game over," Anthony told CTV News on Saturday.

Thankfully, that's when firefighters arrived.

According to Richmond Battalion Chief Gord Graebel, crews first responded to a call about smoke at the duplex, but first responders soon found that the fire was quickly spreading upwards.

"The home was quite cluttered and made it difficult for crews to operate inside," he said. "They heard that the fire was active inside the attic space already and then withdrew from the structure and basically had to go defensive fairly soon into the incident."

Six trucks and two dozen firefighters were on scene, trying to get the "very persistent" blaze under control, the Batallion Chief said.

Graebel said there was no one inside the other unit at the time, but another couple was supposed to move in the next day and the belongings they'd already moved into the home are "likely going to be a total loss."

The cause of the fire is still unclear.

Sonya said her landlords left home with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, but do have fire insurance.

The couple has been living in the duplex since 1975 and own several properties in the area.

Sonya said she and Anthony have been renting from them for more than 20 years and have formed a close relationship with the couple.

As for her quick actions on Friday night, she said she was just doing what any good neighbour would.

"Our neighbourhood is quite special that way in that everybody looks out for everybody and you just try and do what you can, right?"

With files from CTV Vancouver's Michele Brunoro