Still conditions contain house fire

Calm conditions helped contain a fire that badly damaged a house in Southland early today.

Firefighters were called to the blaze in the small village of Otahuti, northwest of Invercargill, about 4am.

"The house was half gone when we got there," Thornbury Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Andrew Hall said.

"It took a while to get it out, it was that hot."

The house was being renovated and had been unoccupied. The cause of the fire was unknown and police had been notified, Hall said.

There were hedges on two sides of the house, but calm conditions had reduced the risk of the fire spreading.

"There was a good, heavy frost. The smoke and fire just went straight up."

Three fire engines - from Thornbury, Wallacetown and Riverton - went to the blaze, along with two tankers.