ON FRIDAY night, Lida Savage watched as the block of units in Owen St, Ballina she and her husband John built 50 years earlier was destroyed by fire.
For 45 years, Mr and Mrs Savage have lived in the house next door and no longer own any of the units.
Their son, Tony Savage, was among the firefighters fighting to extinguish the inferno and prevent it from spreading.
Mr and Mrs Savage were at Tony's house on Friday night when his pager went off for a fire call.
Shortly after the call, Mrs Savage said all the lights went out for a few seconds.
From the roundabout on Bentinck St, she said her son called to say he could already see the flames and realised they were coming from the place next to his parents'.
Ms Savage jumped in the car and raced to her home.
When she arrived and saw the flames engulfing the place next door, Ms Savage said she thought her house "didn't stand a chance."
"We were standing out there on the other side of the road … and the flames were just enormous," Ms Savage said.
She was terrified the ash and cinders would land on the eaves, setting the house alight.
"When I was out here, there was ash and cinders flying everywhere," she said.
"I was in absolute shock, and I was worried about John because he has Parkinson's disease. Anxiety for someone with Parkinson's is not good."
Mrs Savage said if it had not have been for the firefighters, she and her husband would have lost everything.
"I will never ever forget how good they were. I will be eternally grateful," she said.
"It just seems like a bad nightmare and when I look out of a morning and see everything, (I realise) it's not a nightmare, it's true."