Two Surrey families are grateful to be alive after they escaped from a house fire with the help of passing strangers.

The fire, which crews consider suspicious, started early Sunday morning at the rear of a home near 76th Avenue and 150th Street in Surrey.

A couple driving in the area, Jessica George and Clay Rahman, spotted smoke billowing from the house and were worried that people could still be inside.

“We went up to the door and were banging on the door, ringing the doorbell, kicking the door,” said Rahman. “Finally an elderly gentleman opened up and we told him ‘Get out of the house, get everyone out of the house!”

Eight people were then evacuated from the home, including an infant and a 78-year-old woman, as the flames quickly spread.

Homeowner Tejinder Pannu said the home’s residents are thankful to be alive after the help they received.

“They were very good to us. We thank them many times, many times,” said resident Satinder Sidhu, a cousin of Pannu.

The couple, however, said they didn’t think twice about stopping the truck.

“I’m a lifeguard and he’s a construction safety officer so helping people comes first nature to us,” said George.

Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire before nearby homes were damaged, but say the damage to the home where the fire originated may be too extensive.

“There’s quite a bit of damage to the rear of the house. It could be a tear-down, but we’re not 100 per cent sure,” said Chief Gerd Peters.

Investigators are searching the area for clues and say they consider the fire suspicious.

With files by CTV British Columbia’s Michele Brunoro