OUT of devastating loss came a story of soaring human spirit in One Mile yesterday.
Ricky Murphy, 57, lost everything he owned in a house fire but he was thanking his sister Laverne for some timely advice that saved his life just hours before the blaze erupted in the early hours of Monday morning.
Ricky lost his lifelong partner Clara two years ago and has been unwell since.
Most nights he spends at Laverne's place nearby in Leichhardt, before walking back to his home during the day.
On Sunday night Ricky had his bag packed…but then Laverne spoke the words that saved her brother's life.
"Ricky said to me, 'I'm going home'," Laverne told the QT.
"I let him go home during the day…to his memories. He says, 'I've got to go home because Clara is waiting for me'.
"But I said something to him last night that I've never said before. I said: 'You are not going home tonight brother. It is too dark. I'll take you home tomorrow. If you walk out this door I will call Police Beat and get them to pick you up'."
"Then he sat back down."
Laverne received a call at the front door after midnight from an Aboriginal family that lives a few doors down from Ricky's home in Chubb St.
"I was in bed and they were singing out, 'Aunty Laverne. Aunty Laverne, you've got to come. Uncle Ricky's house is on fire'."
Laverne rang family who all came down to see the devastation.
Laverne said "the main thing" was that no-one was harmed in the blaze. A relative lives in the house but was away when the fire engulfed the insured property.
It was obvious yesterday that Ricky is a much loved and respected figure in the community.
"Ricky worked at Steggles all his life," Laverne said.
"He bought that house, and his partner of 38 years passed away in that house two years ago.
"My brother…he was so upset this morning. I said to him, 'All of your memories you keep in your heart, not in that house'.
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"Since Clara passed away, he hasn't been the same.
"He's been grieving for her.
"He got a bit sick when she passed away and had a few seizures
"I live up in Leichhardt and five or six days of the week he is at my house.
"Ricky has been at my place for the last few months because I lost my partner (Michael) in March.
"I don't leave him down there too long because he is on medication and he doesn't take it when he is on his own.
"He just goes back into a depression when he goes down there."
Fire investigators were trying to determine the cause of the blaze yesterday
Ricky's family was rallying around him when the QT spoke to Laverne.
Ricky was too devastated to do an extended interview.
But as he stood next to his sister he acknowledged how her advice had saved him.
"Only for my sister…otherwise I wouldn't be here," he said.