A "brave'' 12-year-old girl who woke to flames in her Christchurch home this morning managed to wake the rest of her family and escape the inferno.
Fourteen houses were evacuated after fears the fierce house fire, which broke out at 2.45am at Alexandra St in Richmond, would spread to neighbouring properties.
Three people were taken to Christchurch Hospital by St John with unknown minor injuries.
The evacuated residents, which Newstalk ZB reported included a 98-year-old, were allowed back in their homes an hour later once the blaze was brought under control.
A police spokeswoman confirmed it was a 12-year-old girl who raised the alarm.
"She woke up to flames and managed to wake everyone else in the house. It was a brave effort.''
A Fire Service spokesman said the blaze was well involved when they arrived on the scene.
There was initially some panic as it was thought people may be inside the burning house.
However, it was quickly established that they had managed to get out.
A firefighter suffered a minor cut injury at the scene after the fire had been extinguished.
It was not known how this had occurred.
The fire is now out, but the house has been left extensively damaged.
One appliance has been left at the scene while a fire safety officer and police investigate how the blaze started.
Meanwhile, police and fire are also investigating how another fire started at a two-storey unoccupied house at Manchester St this morning.
Fire services were called at 7.15am and firefighters found the fire raging in the roof area of the wooden property.
It's being treated as suspicious - the 14th abandoned or empty Christchurch house to be apparently hit by arson in as many days.