A decorated World War II veteran has been left homeless, but with a collection of his war medals intact, after a fire destroyed his Brisbane home.
Arthur James Robert Jackson, 99, managed to escape his Salisbury house before flames engulfed the building on Sunday night.
One of Mr Jackson’s dogs died in the fire and another is missing, but firefighters were able to retrieve his war medals from his bedroom.
Neighbour Melissa Lucas said Mr Jackson was a pilot who flew out of occupied Germany in WWII and received the French government’s highest honour, the Legion of Honour.
“It was right there on his wall. This non-descript old bloke who [I met] walking his dogs in the park one day, and he’s a bloody liberator of Europe,” she said.
“Now he’s homeless. It’s unbelievable,” she said.
Acacia Ridge fire station officer Paul Hart said the war veteran was “very lucky, given his age, and the fact the fire took hold very quickly”.
“It basically came down to that working smoke alarm [that] alerted him early and he was able to get himself out of the premises and to a point of safety.”
Mr Hart said the war medals had obviously suffered a little bit in the fire.
“The medals themselves were in good nick but unfortunately one of the medals out of his medal group of about five or six medals was missing off that,” he said.
“But we retrieved everything else along with some memorabilia, some of his uniform badges and patches.”
The missing medal potentially could be recovered from the scene when fire investigators returned on Monday, he said.
The other medals have been handed to police.
Another neighbour said Mr Jackson had been a bomber pilot.
Ms Lucas said she often saw Mr Jackson walk his dogs around the block.
“I thought, he’s very sprightly. And it turns out he was 98 then and lived alone,” she said.
Ms Lucas said she noticed the fire around 7:00pm last night after “my housemate said ‘is that fireworks or a fire’, and raced outside”.
They found Mr Jackson’s house was “just ablaze, the flames were higher than the surrounding houses”.
Mr Jackson was admitted to QEII hospital after suffering minor smoke inhalation, Mr Hart said.