AN ELDERLY man and his dog have lost everything following a house fire in South Grafton early on Tuesday morning.

Shortly before 5am, neighbours discovered the Housing Commission home in Toona Way was alight and called emergency services.

"A woman across the street happened to be up feeding her baby when she saw the flames and rang the fire brigade," a neighbour said.

"Another neighbour sang out to me that there was a fire while she grabbed our garden hose to try and stop it, but it was just too strong."

Neighbours extinguished a jacaranda tree out the front of the property that had caught alight, but the fire had already spread throughout the home when fire crews arrived.

"We turned up and it was already nearly through the roof so we just got to work with our lines of hose and knocked it out," South Grafton Fire Brigade captain Paul Danvers said at the scene.

"At this stage it doesn't look like it was suspicious. Police are going to take control of the property and investigate it," Mr Danvers said.

 

DAMAGE EXTENSIVE: The aftermath of a house fire in Toona Way, South Grafton,  yesterday morning.
DAMAGE EXTENSIVE: The aftermath of a house fire in Toona Way, South Grafton, yesterday morning. Jenna Thompson

The sole occupant of the property, 74-year-old Paul Barnhart, was not home at the time.

One neighbour said: "Paul goes out every morning around that time, but once I realised his car wasn't there we were relieved because we knew he wasn't inside.

"We were then a bit worried about his dog, but thankfully Paul took it with him this time."

Mr Barnhart said he left home about 4.30am every morning to feed horses on a property at Clarenza.

He said he was not concerned about the material possessions he had lost.

"I was up at the farm at Clarenza. and got a phone call from police telling me the house was on fire," he said.

"I'm concerned about nothing that was in the house. Nobody's hurt, that's the main thing. As long as no one was hurt."

 

The aftermath of a house fire in Toona Way, South Grafton 26/03/19
The aftermath of a house fire in Toona Way, South Grafton 26/03/19 Jenna Thompson

While the cause of the fire has yet to be determined, neighbours said this was not the first time they had witnessed such an event in their neighbourhood.

"Four other homes in the area have been set alight over the years, but we don't think this one was deliberate," the neighbour said.

"We're relieved Paul's fine, but we're so sad for him because he's lost everything."

Several neighbours have already offered him a place to stay until he can find permanent housing.

 

The aftermath of a house fire in Toona Way, South Grafton 26/03/19
The aftermath of a house fire in Toona Way, South Grafton 26/03/19 Jenna Thompson


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