The sign on Tingha's pub door reads 'CLOSED TODAY: R.I.P JOHNNY' as a village in shock reels from the death of one of their own.
Emergency services discovered the body of the man, aged in his 70s, after the fire was extinguished.
Neighbour and triple zero caller Sigrid Perkuhn felt something wasn't right when she missed seeing the man's distinctive car leave at breakfast time that morning.
"I was surprised, normally I see him going out, but I didn't see his car coming out this morning," she said.
She said she called the emergency number at about 8am, after hearing two loud, booming sounds from outside.
"I heard 'boom, boom' and then I saw the smoke," she said.
"I got on the phone straight away and called 000 and said 'quick quick, there's a fire on Museum Street in Tingha'. I said 'you can't miss it'."
Another neighbour Colleen Jones, said you just didn't expect something to happen like this in a small town like Tingha.
"My partner was sitting at the table and having a coffee like he normally does and reading his stories on his iPad," she said, before he reached for the phone to dial triple zero as well.
"He woke me up and told me what was happening, and I got dressed and quickly came up to have a look.
"We heard someone calling out his name ... it's terrible."
We are investigating the circumstances, and will identify him as soon as possible.Cameron Paine
Officer-in-charge of Inverell police, Acting Inspector Cameron Paine, said the official identification had not been made yet.
"We are investigating the circumstances, and will identify him as soon as possible," he said on Monday afternoon.
Gazing out across her from lawn at the completely destroyed shell of the house, Ms Perkuhn said the man would occasionally help her with her bins, making sure they were right for collection.
The Tingha Pub said staff were "taking the day to process his loss".
"He was a great man" a spokesman said.
Investigations into the fire are continuing.
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