Surveying the blackened ruins of his Nollamara home, Ivan Taboni clasped his neighbour’s shoulder and said adamantly: “There’s no doubt at all that he saved my life.”
The 84-year-old grandfather yesterday saw his “saviour” Ashley Hoarau for the first time since the 31-year-old rescued him from his burning home on Saturday evening.
“If it wasn’t for him I would have been burned alive,” Mr Taboni said. “He’s a hero.”
Police believe the fire that destroyed the Newhaven Way house was deliberately lit and they are still searching for a man seen loitering in the street smoking a cigarette in the minutes before flames engulfed Mr Taboni’s car and home.
The retired engineer lost everything in the fire and said it was sad to see his home of 35 years in ruins.
He hopes the arsonist responsible is caught and punished.
“Not only have I lost a lot of very nice things I had … but my life could have gone,” Mr Taboni said. “But I have to think … what’s next and what’s ahead of me.”
Mr Taboni had been dozing on the couch when he heard a massive bang about 11pm.
It was only his second night home after spending more than two weeks in hospital.
Across the road, Mr Hoarau also heard the loud noise and raced outside to see flames at his neighbour’s home.
He presumed the elderly man would be home and knew he was not very mobile so would likely need help.
Mr Taboni had managed to reach the front door but was struggling to unlock the wire door when Mr Hoarau arrived.
By the time they got the door open and Mr Hoarau scooped up the elderly man and carried him outside, the lounge just a few metres away was on fire.
Mr Hoarau yesterday downplayed his actions and said he was just relieved Mr Taboni was OK.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area on Saturday evening should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Rewards of up to $50,000 are offered for information that leads to the identification and conviction of an arsonist.