Police are looking for two men who were seen running away from a South Lake home after a suspected drug lab explosion on Thursday night.
Witnesses described how their houses shook and windows shattered from the force of the explosion about 8.30pm.
It is understood the suspected drug lab was in a rear bedroom of the State housing unit, near the corner of South Lake Drive and Glenbawn Drive.
"I just saw this big gush of flame and all these orange embers," 15-year-old Amy Hardy said. "The whole house shook and the laundry door shattered.
"It wasn't like a normal house fire, it smelt different.
"I think everyone just assumed it was a meth lab."
Neighbours were evacuated because of the spreading flames and potentially toxic smoke.
Next door neighbour Michelle Colvin, 52, said she ran into the burning unit to rescue a female tenant.
"I felt it through the floor and it was so loud that I just leapt off the couch and raced straight over there in my knickers and singlet," she said. "I could see the fire and I saw her, so I just ran in and grabbed her because the ceiling was coming down on us as we were getting out.
"I did what anyone else would have done, it was an automatic response."
Ms Colvin said the tenant had been sharing the unit with her two adult sons.A Department of Housing spokeswoman said the tenant had lived at the unit for more than seven years and had no history of disruptive behaviour.
The spokeswoman said alternative accommodation would be organised for two neighbouring tenants, including Ms Colvin.
Arson squad officers wore protective gear yesterday as they examined the gutted unit, situated just 30m from the South Lake Child Care Centre.
A police spokesman said they were looking for two men who might have serious burns.
It is understood one man sought medical attention yesterday.