His 1927 heritage-listed home stands cruelly intact. His four-year-old Alaskan malamute, Rex, is oblivious to terror that unfolded on Thursday night.
Walter Linder, 63, died while defending his home during horrific fires in Lake Munmorah.
Its believed the semi-retired draughtsman had a heart attack or succumbed to intense stress as he desperately tried to stop fire from taking hold of his beloved home, a one-storey former homestead.
His neighbour and landlord, Marvin Campbell, who has been friends with Mr Linder for 30 years, said the pair were trying to defend their homes on the shared property when fire rapidly jumped over Carter's Road.
"We were just bucketing water anywhere we could reach," he said. "I've never seen anything like it."
Mr Linder went to the bottom of the property to protect a shed full of furniture while Mr Campbell went to the front of the property.
When he returned minutes later, he found Mr Linder slumped in the back yard.
It was a chaotic scene as paramedics tried to save Mr Linder while fire crews battled blazes around them.
"There I was, bawling my eyes out while trying to put a fire out," Mr Campbell said. "It was just horrible."
A close friend, Sue Cartwright, rushed to Carter's Road to check on Mr Campbell and Mr Marvin but was stopped by a roadblock.
All she could see was smoke billowing wildly above surrounding bushland.
"When you looked down the road, it just looked like the gates of hell," she said. "It was absolutely terrifying."
She said Mr Linder was born in Geneva and had lived in New Zealand before settling in Australia 30 years ago.
"He was very worldly and so intelligent, like a walking encyclopaedia," she said. "He was just such an awesome friend."
They would have wine on Mr Linder's porch every Tuesday as their dogs played together.
"He loved that dog so much. He'd cook up big meals for the two of them and take him walking around the property in the middle of the night," Ms Cartwright said.
She was at a loss to understand how Mr Linder collapsed just after 6pm.
She said he had surgery two weeks ago for a tumour in his bladder but was extremely fit and healthy.
"He wouldn't even use pesticides on the property," she said.
He had lived alone at the historic home in Lake Munmorah for nine years and has family in America and London.
Flames licked at the back doors of neighbouring properties on Carter's Road on Thursday night but all of them were spared.
Strong winds whipped up fire in minutes, said one resident, Pete Durie.
"It was just coming straight through here like a rocket," he said.
Emergency warning are still in place for nearby Doyalson and Catherine Hill Bay.