AN elderly man had to be restrained by a neighbour as he desperately tried to re-enter his home after it caught alight this afternoon.
The grief-stricken man was trying to get his two beloved birds to safety.
One of the two birds died, while the other is expected to recover.
The man, whose name has not been released, was taken to Port Macquarie Base Hospital suffering minor facial burns and smoke inhalation.
Concerned neighbour Khan Rake was in the lounge room of his Tulloch Road home when he noticed clouds of smoke outside about 2.30pm.
He saw his elderly neighbour trying to regain entry to the unit.
"I had to hold him back to keep him outside," Mr Rake said.
"He really wanted to get back in there, but he was already all covered in smoke and wasn't looking well."
Mr Rake eventually made his way to the kitchen with a garden hose and fought the fire that had begun to spread to other areas of the home unit.
A Port Macquarie Fire and Rescue NSW squad soon arrived and took over dousing the flames.
A Fire and Rescue spokesman credited Mr Rake for his actions.
"He deserves a lot of credit for what he did," the spokesman said.
"Not only could he have saved the victim’s life by not allowing him back in, he managed to put out a substantial amount of the fire."
The fire is believed to have been caused by chicken nuggets cooking on the stove.
The kitchen was extensively damaged by fire and heat and the rest of the home by smoke.
The victim is in a stable condition and is expected to be released from hospital later this afternoon.