Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Wellington house destroyed by suspicious fire

An abandoned Wellington house was destroyed by a suspicious fire today.

Fire crews arrived at the two-storey wooden villa in Newtown shortly after 12.30pm, Wellington Fire Senior Station Officer Brett Lockyer said.

A worker from a nearby McDonalds had reported he saw a woman in the house but searches found no sign of anyone, Mr Lockyer said.

"The property has been 90 per cent destroyed and it will need to be removed."

Smoke from the fire could be seen from as far away as Wellington Airport.

Neighbouring houses suffered only superficial damage, Mr Lockyer said.

Neighbour Sam Lee said he and his flatmates grabbed their laptops and some valuables before fleeing.

Their flat, about a metre away, escaped damage, he said.

"The wind was blowing in the other direction, so we weren't too worried," he said.

But the incident was "very dramatic, real crazy".

The vacant property was known among locals and Mr Lee said sometimes he would walk through it to find empty tupperware containers and used syringes.

His downstairs neighbour had often chased out young people squatting in the building, he said.

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