Gerard Roberts and Daniel Sequin survey the damage after an early-morning fire that still has both men shaken up.

“I worry. It could have been bad,” said Roberts. “I could've lost my life.”

The fire broke out at around 3 a.m. Tuesday when Roberts was asleep inside his home.

The noise from a neighbour trying to put the blaze out and the smell of smoke woke him up.

When he came outside Roberts was in a panic, but acted quickly.

“We took a plastic snow shovel and we were beating the siding and flames with the shovel to the point where it stopped,” said Sequin.

The two men share the duplex and the fire started on the side that was under renovations.

Thankfully the damage was limited to the siding and some older shingles.

“My end affects him and his end affects me,” Roberts said. “Could've been a lot worse. (I’m) pretty grateful today.”

The cause of the fire here is unknown at this point, but the Cape Breton Regional Police say it is suspicious and their investigation is continuing.

Meanwhile, Sequin says the thought of someone setting the fire is disturbing.

“It's very nerve-wracking … overwhelming,” he said. “It's not a good feeling for sure. Nothing I thought I would experience in my lifetime.”

But what is a good feeling, says Roberts, is having caring neighbours and one he credits with saving his life.

“It's a good neighbourhood,” Roberts says. “Everybody pretty well gets along. We try to.”

Sequin agrees.

“Although you think you're alone when you’re living somewhere, you’re not,” he said. “Everyone pitches in, everyone cares; it's a good feeling.”

A near disaster with a happy outcome has brought these two neighbours even closer together.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.