A Quebec man gave his life protecting his wife and two children Sunday, when he remained inside his house as the roof began to collapse so he could warn his family to escape.

Guy Beauparlent, 55, was in his second-floor bedroom of his home when he heard a noise that made him suspect the roof was caving in, his brother Alain Beauparlent told CTV News.

"His priority was to get his family out," said Alain Beauparlent, a Shawinigan city counselor.

He called his brother a hero.

Beauparlent's wife and two children escaped safely, but Beauparlent was unable to join them in time.

"They had time to get out but the man didn't have that same chance," said Sgt. Melanie Paul of the Quebec provincial police.

Investigators believe that the collapse was probably the result of snow accumulation on the roof and have warned neighbours about the danger, Quebec provincial police spokesman Marc Butz told CTV.ca.

The collapse happened at 7:20 a.m. ET at the man's home near Shawinigan, a small city northeast of Montreal and home town of former prime minister Jean Chretien.

Beauparlent's body was found at 8:15 a.m. by emergency crews. He was declared dead on the scene.

The heavy snowfall in Quebec this winter has caused several roof collapses, most notably a cave-in last Wednesday at a warehouse in Morin Heights that killed three women.

In response, Montreal's main French school board shut down schools until Tuesday so that roofs could be cleared of snow.

This is the most snow Quebecers have seen in decades and many are still getting accustomed to the dangers heavy snow loads pose to roofs.

Homeowners are looking for any warning signs, like doors that will no longer open or, in Montreal resident Jaques Johnson's case, a new crack in the ceiling.

"It's supposed to rain and it's supposed to freeze, so I'm afraid of the ice," he said.

Roofing companies said they're working hard to keep up with the demand from homeowners who want their roofs cleared.

"They are panicked, they are stressed," said roofer Francois Bertrant. "They don't sleep at night."

Some companies are now charging up to $300 to clear a small roof of about 10 square metres -- a job that takes less than an hour.

Several community centres and hockey arenas have also been shut down. And in one case, dozens of seniors were forced from their residence after staff members heard cracking sounds.

With a report from CTV's Jed Kahane and CTV Montreal's Stephane Giroux