A LISMORE man is lucky to be alive after he was tied up and bashed in his home by two masked intruders who then set his house on fire on Sunday night.
Police and emergency services were called to the East Lismore address just before 10.20pm to find the rear of the home engulfed in flames and the man still trapped inside.
Two neighbours had attempted to free the man, reportedly aged 74, but were unable to open his front door which was padlocked from the inside.
Upon their arrival police wasted no time in kicking through the door to rescue the desperate man.
He was treated at the scene by paramedics suffering a broken nose, facial bruising, minor burns and smoke inhalation.
The victim told police he had arrived home after watching the NRL grand final at a friend's house and was confronted by the two balaclava-clad men.
After assaulting him they stole a small amount of cash before setting the home alight. He was taken to Lismore Base Hospital and was in a stable condition yesterday afternoon.
A series of loud pops and bangs which witnesses said were bullets were heard exploding during the inferno. One neighbour found a bullet casing in their driveway.
Neighbours said the flames were at least four metres high and "raging red hot". The roof at the rear of the house, a red brick and tile extension, collapsed dramatically around 11pm.
It took three fire crews around four hours to contain the blaze. Another fire crew continued to work on the site yesterday until around 1pm.
"The original dwelling is intact and has minimal damage... the rear is utterly destroyed, said Lismore station officer James Connors.
Neighbours said the victim had lived in the home for more than 50 years and mainly kept to himself.
He was said to be an avid ham radio hobbyist and a member of Summerland Amateur Radio Club. He also once owned a pet goat, which people recalled fondly.