A fire which destroyed a Napier family's transport is believed to have been arson, police say.

The Subaru Forester burst into flames about 1.50am outside an address in Ranfurly St, Tamatea.

Police confirmed another vehicle was reported missing from a property about five doors away soon afterwards. It was found later undamaged at a park off Essex St, also in Tamatea.

The fire happened outside the home of Basil Pomana and the Subaru Forester belonged to sister Kerenapu and brother-in-law Shane Jacobs, ruining the vehicle used to transport their two children, aged 7 and 9, to such things as school, basketball during the week, and to soccer at weekends.

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Mr Pomana and Mr Jacobs were both woken by Kerenapu as she and neighbours screamed as they discovered the blaze, which was quickly extinguished by fire crews. Police also attended soon afterwards.

"Our daughter was also screaming," said Mr Jacobs, who later in the day had been given the use of a vehicle belonging to his employer while pondering what to do about replacing the wagon which had been in the family about four years.

Mr Pomana wasn't aware of anything else similar happening in the street in recent times, although a boat was stolen about a year ago. Both he and Mr Jacobs are working and there was nothing to suggest they were being personally targeted.