A brave neighbour helped a 99-year-old World War II Digger escape from his burning Brisbane home but couldn't save the elderly man's beloved dogs.
Simon Royston says his neighbour Bob — who was a recipient of France's highest military honour — was battling to get down the stairs of his blazing Salisbury home when he raced over to help about 7pm local time yesterday.
Royston said he helped get the war veteran across the road to safety before returning to try to save the man's dogs, but by then the property was engulfed in flames.
"We were having dinner and we heard the fire alarm going off and then all of a sudden we heard shouts for help. Help, help, help," Royston told ABC radio.
"We managed to get him down the stairs ... we tried to go back and see if we could get his two dogs out but by that stage the smoke and the fire had truly engulfed the house."
The man's fibro home was destroyed and the dogs lost, but there was one piece of good news. Fire crews were able to retrieve his war medals and other memorabilia but one medal is missing. He was a recipient of the French Legion of Honour.
The man is recovering in hospital from smoke inhalation.
Royston said it was a scary moment.
"His eyes were watering and I think he'd been trying to battle the blaze by himself for a little while before shouting out for help," he said.
"He just really wanted his dogs.
"We went back, got to the top of the stairs at the front of the house, lay down on the floor and started calling for the dogs. I could hear them but within about two or three minutes it went very quiet in the house."
Neighbours, some of whom helped care for Bob so he could continue to live at home, are rallying around the veteran.