The neighbour of an elderly man whose house went up in flames didn't think twice about rushing to his aid.
Rothesay Bay resident John Russell was first to reach his 90-year-old neighbour just minutes before his house was engulfed in fire.
The man is believed to have been drying his pyjamas on a radiator heater in his bedroom when they caught alight at around 8am on September 11.
Firefighters, police and ambulance officers attended the callout on Garadice Rd.
Waitemata fire risk management officer George Stephens says the man was taken to hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation and minor burns.
Mr Russell's wife Lorraine noticed smoke coming from next door and called for her husband to check it out.
After failing to get through the front door, Mr Russell rushed to the back of the house and climbed a plank to the deck before entering.
"There was fire in three different places in the front room. The old boy wasn't too keen to leave. He was standing there with a bucket trying to put it out, but I could tell we didn't have a chance.
"The fire had already melted the trackpants he was wearing."
Once he had convinced his neighbour to leave, Mr Russell says it took just two minutes for the whole second floor to catch fire.
East Coast Bays fire station officer Graeme Butter says the fire built up quickly.
"It looked to be fairly small but it built up rapidly after we arrived leading the windows to blow out."
A scene investigation later revealed the home was not fitted with smoke alarms.
"He was unlucky all the doors were open, including a big ranch slider directly in front of the fire.
"That airflow meant the fire was blown throughout the entire house very quickly," Mr Butter says.
Damage to the home is extensive and it is understood the owner does not have insurance.
"He lives alone. I just hate to think what might have happened if we hadn't been home," Mr Russell says.
"He would've been a goner."
Mr Stephens says negotiations are under way to use it as an open home to educate the public about fire safety.
Mr Butter would like to remind people to ensure that their smoke alarms are working and to always adhere to the "heater metre rule".
"Make sure nothing flammable is within a metre of a heater."
- © Fairfax NZ News