An off duty fireman pulled two young children and their mother from a burning Wainuiomata house before it was gutted by fire yesterday.
The address is in the same area where police believe an arsonist may have hit several times.
The woman, a boy understood to be 5 years old, and a girl about four years old were the only occupants of the Wise St house when the fire was discovered, just after midnight Wednesday morning. They escaped with no injuries.
Wainuiomata Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Dave Smith says the house was well ablaze when fire fighters arrived, and it took six units to bring the fire under control.
''The guy across the road is in our brigade and heard the yelling and screaming and the fire siren [at the station].
''He pulled two young children and the mother out of the room round the back of the house.''
Mr Smith said the woman was woken by a noise, but found the corridor from the bedrooms to the front and back doors already impassable.
''They couldn't get out of the house.''
The family were comforted at the scene by the off-duty fireman's wife.
''She was definitely in quite a state of shock.
''A good two thirds of the house is gutted.
''The roof's collapsed, it's been fierce inside, fanned by a north east wind blowing it through the house.''
Initial indications are that the fire started in a porch area facing onto the street. The family were lucky a closed lounge door slowed the spread of the fire to the bedrooms, Mr Smith says.
Hutt Valley detective senior sergeant Mike Sears said a scene examination was inconclusive, and a further police investigation is now underway.
The house is two blocks from a recycling station on Wainuiomata's Parkway Rd.
Mr Smith said it was ''constantly'' plagued by deliberately lit fires.
Last week police said three late night vegetation fires lit in the Parkway area, and a fourth at Point Howard, could be the work of a serial arsonist.
The suspicious fires were all discovered between 9:30pm and 1am, since October 17, and include one found in Kawatiri Gr, a residential street two blocks from Parkway.
They are also still under investigation, Mr Sears said.
''We're not in a position to say it's [the Wise St fire is] arson, we've got quite a few enquiries and forensic investigations to do before we could point in the right direction,'' he said.
- Hutt News