A musician who plans to audition for the New Zealand X Factor talent quest managed to grab his best guitar as he and his family fled for their lives from a burning house in Papamoa on Saturday.
The 7.40am fire swept through the converted batch near the end of Papamoa Beach Rd, leaving the family with the clothes and pyjamas they stood up in, plus a few smoke and water-damaged possessions salvaged from the garage yesterday.
The garage was the furthest from the seat of the fire which destroyed the living areas and bedrooms of the home.
The man, his partner and two of her three young children were in the house when the fire took hold at breakfast time.
Years of renovations went up in smoke in just a few minutes. It was a grim reminder for the owners of the house of how quickly a fire could take hold and spread.
The owners, the parents of the mother of the children, were out when they got a call saying to get home quick because the house was on fire.
Speaking to the Bay of Plenty Times on the basis that they were not named, the owners said they were stunned by the rapid spread of the fire, which left their newly rebuilt kitchen and bathroom a charred mess.
The couple said they had spent years converting the batch into what they planned would be their retirement home.
"There's not a lot left to salvage," he said looking at the remnants laid out on the front lawn.
His wife said what happened was exactly like the TV advertisement when all the flammable stuff exploded in flames. It had been a panic situation for her family, but they all got out safely along with two cats.
She said the Salvation Army was now looking for a rental for the family to move into because they did not want the oldest boy, aged 10, to change schools. The oldest boy was not at home when the fire started, leaving two children aged two and four to cope with the drama.
Looking at the gutted mess, the owners bitterly remarked that it was the ultimate in indoor/outdoor flow.
"It just sucks," she said.
They were initially puzzled by a metal frame left behind in the destruction of the kitchen until they realised it was what was left of a kiddies' high chair.
"It was a very sobering moment," she said.
Precious family mementos and photos were lost in the blaze and they were now pinning their hopes that a salvaged CD of downloaded photos was playable. Otherwise they have lost everything of sentimental value.
"It was just a beach bach but it was what we wanted," she said.
The owners were insured.
It took about 20 minutes for two fire trucks from the Mount Maunganui and Papamoa stations to bring the blaze under control, with Papamoa volunteers still there four hours later dampening down hot spots.
The cause of the fire was being investigated.