Jason Male was in the backyard of his Newdegate home last Friday morning, gardening and enjoying the sunshine, when the ringing of a fire alarm startled him into action. Assuming the sound was coming from the house next door, he ducked into his place to make sure he was not mistaken. “I got inside and got into the hallway and just saw thick black smoke billowing out of the guest room,” he said. “I just kept thinking ‘how? How did this happen?’ ” The 31-year-old — who lived at the public housing property with his two dogs, cat and pet bird — has spoken to the Observer about the “hellish” day his home was all but destroyed by fire. The animal lover said his primary concern was getting his pets to safety. He evacuated his two dogs and cat, then tried to save his beloved galah, but it flew back into the blaze. “I dropped to the ground and crawled in to save him,” Mr Male said. “I could smell my hair burning and the tops of my ears and I was just about out of the room when the bird panicked and flew straight back into the room. “It was just too hot in there by that point to save him”. Mr Male said he ran outside yelling for help, louder than he had ever yelled in his life. “People started rocking up from everywhere to help,” he said. “The fireys rocked up but they couldn't do anything until the power was cut so we all just had to stand there, watching it burning away. “Everything just hit me at that point and I couldn’t even stand anymore. I just couldn't breathe ... kept coughing up black stuff.” Describing the ordeal as “like being in hell”, he said he was helped through it by the small Newdegate community. “Everyone on the scene kept telling me my dogs were safe and that they were going to look after them while someone got me to the hospital,” he said. “Everyone just came together, and were doing everything they could to console me.” He said he had lost almost everything in the fire, apart from some family photos and the clothes he had on at the time. The Newdegate property had been a “real home” for him and his animals after he had been homeless and living out of his car for almost a year. “I suffer depression and severe anxiety ... that house was the first thing I finally had that made me feel at peace,” he said. Mr Male said he was staying in a tent in the backyard of a friend’s place in Newdegate after the loss of his home. He said the community, the church and local police had shown him strong support, with some people donating items. He has since told the Observer he has secured a six-month lease on a public housing property in Narrogin, but he will be sad to say goodbye to Newdegate. Mr Male escaped the blaze with minor burns. Police are continuing their inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the fire.