Quick-thinking neighbours stopped a suspicious house fire in Waitara from spreading out of control.
Firefighters were called to the Rahiri St house about 10.30am yesterday.
When they arrived the blaze was being controlled by neighbours with garden hoses.
"Another couple of minutes and the house would have gone up in flames," station officer Darren Hicks said.
There was no-one in the house at the time of the fire, which was contained to the lounge, Mr Hicks said.
The cause of the fire was now being investigated by the CIB and the fire service.
Constable Glenn Olliver said a guard was at the address overnight and a scene examination would take place this morning.
"We will know more once the examination has taken place, but we are treating it as possibly suspicious," Mr Olliver said.
Mr Hicks said smoke alarms were not installed in the home and if the neighbours had not been alert the house may have been destroyed.
"Smoke alarms are a great help. They save lives. Everyone should buy them, and more importantly, use them," he said.
Police want to speak to anyone who may have information about the fire.
- © Fairfax NZ News
What do you think of Maori trying to restrict access to the breakwater?Related story: Iwi may disrupt access