Fire took less than five minutes to completely destroy the inside of a house in Burke Road, Dapto, on Sunday afternoon.
Six children and three adults were forced to flee the burning structure, and one man was taken to Wollongong Hospital in a stable condition suffering from smoke inhalation.
Fire fighters were able to save an urn containing the ashes of a relative of the occupants, however a pet cat is still unaccounted for.
Paramedics treated two fire fighters on scene for heat exhaustion, and all other occupants of the house managed to escape without injury.
Police and Fire and Rescue officers were yesterday investigating the cause of the fire, however it is believed a man working on his daughter’s motor bike in the lower level of the building created a spark, igniting nearby fuel.
Neighbour Chris St Clair grabbed a garden hose when he noticed the fire next door.
‘‘I heard what sounded like the little boy... and his dad screaming,’’ Mr St Clair said.
‘‘I picked up my baby, gave her to mum and went running outside to see what I could do to help.
‘‘I pulled my hose out ... turned it on flat out but one hose, you couldn’t penetrate it [the fire].’’
Mr St Clair said the house was almost completely destroyed before fire fighters had a chance to arrive.
A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said crews were first called to the incident at 1.21pm, where paramedics found the house ‘‘well alight’’.
Witnesses reported not being able to see the house through thick black smoke, while large flames came close to neighbouring properties.
Scott Alberts’ three children and his wife had gone to the house for a swim with the occupants when the fire broke out.
He said he was relieved his children hadn’t been hurt.
Wollongong NSW Fire and Rescue inspector Greg Houston said crews had worked hard to ensure there was no risk to nearby houses.
‘‘The initial reports we received were that there were people still inside the building but when crews arrived they contacted the owners, and found that everyone was accounted for,’’ Insp Houston said.
‘‘We put in protection lines so the fire wouldn’t spread.’’
He said despite being destroyed on the inside, there was little risk the structure would collapse due to it being made of brick.
‘‘Our main concern when we arrived we noticed their solar panel on the roof so even though we disconnected the electricity supply, it was still generating power ... throughout the building,’’ Insp Houston said.
Multiple fire crews attended, and police blocked off the road to traffic for several hours.