A WORKING smoke alarm might have been credited for saving a Muswellbrook resident from a terrible fate last week.
But, the brave actions of the man's neighbours were also instrumental in his survival after fire destroyed his Shaw Crescent home.
Peter and Amy Jones were in bed when a noise awoke them at 11.55pm on Tuesday, December 11.
However, they could not have predicted what was about to unfold over the next few hours.
"At first, I heard a bang - and assumed the kids were getting up - and then a scream," Mr Jones said.
"I opened the shutters and saw the house on the opposite side of the street up in flames.
"Our neighbour had collapsed alongside the dwelling, appearing to be in total shock.
"While I ran across the road in bare feet, Amy rang Fire and Rescue NSW and NSW Ambulance.
"My initial thought was 'holy crap'.
"Then instinct kicked in as I was worried about more people being in the house.
"I asked if anyone else was in there; and confirmed with the owner that no one or animals were inside.
"It was about 14 minutes before the firefighters arrived, so I tried my best with the garden hose to water the affected area.
"But, the fire was too intense - and the flames so high, approximately 30 feet.
"Although I knew I was safe, the whole thing was crazy."
Mr Jones praised fellow residents, including Brendan Harris and Natalie Delphine, for their assistance, too.
"In those type of situations, every second counts," he said.
"Another minute later, the house next door could have caught alight.
"You can see its cladding was melted as well.
"Brendan and Natalie alerted the other neighbours, who were quick to react, too.
"It actually gives me goose bumps talking about it now," Mrs Jones added.
"It could have been a lot more serious, especially with the winds and the embers floating around.
"After about six attempts, I ended up getting the owner to safety [inside our house], gave him an Aspro and provided some comfort until the paramedics got there."
The incident has certainly been a sombre experience for the local family.
"We went out and bought more smoke alarms afterwards," Mrs Jones said.
"And, we had a good chat with the kids about fire safety.
"Our daughter India made a card for the firies, paramedics and police to thank them."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.