It took less than five minutes for a fire to engulf most of a house in Beach Haven yesterday.
Many of the windows were blown out and most of the roof was lost to the flames, but luckily no one was harmed and the cat managed to escape from under the house.
Matile Clay, 65, who lives in the Taurus Cres house with her husband, niece and three young grandchildren, was in the dining room when she smelled smoke and ran up the road to find help.
When they arrived at the scene about 11.45am, emergency services were worried she was trapped inside but she was soon found. The family have insurance.
Fire risk management officer Ray Coleman said the fire started in the lounge and quickly took hold of the house because of the type of ceiling tiles.
It took three fire crews about five minutes to put out the fire.
Alerted by her daughter, neighbour Filipina Naititi arrived at the same time as the first fire truck.
"I'd never seen anything like it before ... the windows smashed but it blew the roof off first."