A Hawke's Bay couple have been seriously burnt in a mystery incident after a domestic argument spilled into their backyard.
The 42-year-old woman was in a critical condition in Middlemore Hospital, Auckland, last night, with burns to a large part of her body.
The man was burnt on his hands and arms and is in a stable condition in Hawke's Bay Hospital.
Police do not yet know how the pair suffered the injuries at the property in Whakatu, north of Hastings, about 7.10pm on Christmas Day.
A neighbour said she phoned police after the pair began fighting in their backyard.
"This was something that got completely out of hand ... it was just so physical and so noisy, the whole street would have heard as they just started absolutely going ballistic."
After the argument spilled outside into the backyard, a sudden plume of dark, black smoke erupted above the fence line and the woman started screaming, the neighbour said.
"I've never seen a fire like it before, there were no flames, it was intensely black and it was gone in a few seconds."
It is understood children were at the house at the time.
Detective Senior Sergeant Dave de Lange said police had not yet been able to speak to the couple.
- The Dominion Post