A waterfront home at Speers Point has been destroyed by fire over night.
Emergency services received a number of calls from passers-by and neighbours who raised the alarm, unaware if anyone was inside.
While onlookers waited for Fire and Rescue to arrive, they grabbed garden hoses to help fight the blaze.
Fire fighters did a sweep of the house while it ferociously burnt, and found the house empty.
It took crews only 20 minutes to bring the fire under control, but the house on The Esplanade is all but destroyed.
A development application had been lodged with Lake Macquarie Council to knock down the home and rebuild.
The fire is believed to have started in the kitchen.