Sydney police officers who risked their lives to save an alleged arsonist trapped in a burning building say it was like running into a wall of fire.
Eight officers were hospitalised with smoke inhalation and burns after trying to enter the two-storey residence and Middle Eastern supermarket at Wentworthville after it exploded and erupted in flames early on Tuesday morning.
A 60-year-old man was able to scramble free as explosions and flames razed the building, but officers ran inside without protective gear to try to save a 36-year-old buried in the rubble.
The officers made up to seven attempts to enter the building but intense flames pushed them back each time, and the trapped man was later rescued by firefighters.
Police subsequently charged the 36-year-old at his hospital bedside with destroying property with the intent to endanger life in relation to the blaze. He's due to front court on October 17.
Constable Rabii Haddad, one of the first officers on the scene, said he arrived to the sound of a man inside "screaming for help".
"All you could see was a fire wall, and a guy crawling from the fire wall," he told reporters on Thursday.
"We've run in there and helped the guy that was on the ground crawling.
"It was like a fireworks going off ... The roof almost came down when I first got there, and that's when I tried to go in there."
Constable Haddad, who has been praised as a hero by senior police for his efforts, said he acted on instinct.
"You don't think," he said at Merrylands police station.
"As police officers we just go in there and the whole point is just to worry about this guy, to save him."
Sergeant Sean Heagney, who sustained first degree burns in the fire, said he would have acted the same even if he knew the trapped man allegedly started the blaze.
"If we had known the allegations that are before the courts we wouldn't have changed any way we did it, it was human nature," he said.
Leading Senior Constable Ergun Koksal agreed, saying there was "no hesitation" in entering the massive fire.