A Ngongotaha mother suffered burns to both hands as she rescued her five young children before her house was engulfed in flames.
The fire, which started in a bedroom, destroyed the property down a long driveway on Parawai Rd yesterday morning.
Only a blackened shell remained - with charred furniture, cupboards, kitchen appliances and a pile of damaged clothes and bed frames.
The woman received treatment for her burns at Rotorua Hospital but none of the children suffered any injuries, or smoke inhalation.
She lived at the house with her partner and two of her children - 4-year-old twins.
The other children - aged 9, 7 and 6 years old - normally lived with their grandfather, but were visiting on the day, she said.
Her partner was at work at the time and was unaware of the fire late yesterday afternoon, she said.
"I haven't told him yet, I will wait until he gets home tonight."
The woman, who did not want to be identified, said her son had been playing with a lighter under the bed when the mattress caught fire, quickly spreading to the rest of the house.
"I was cleaning the house and was in the kitchen when I smelt smoke and saw my son with a lighter in his hand," she said.
"I grabbed my kids and got them out of the house and then tried to save what I could.
"That's how I burnt my hands as I went to grab some clothes."
Neighbours rang the Rotorua Fire Brigade who arrived soon after 11am.
The family lost all their possessions, including furniture, clothes and electrical appliances, however they were fully insured.
"Everything is gone," she said.
"The main thing is the kids are safe."
"I've got mixed emotions - I'm shocked and angry but I'm just very happy the children are okay."
Her son, who started the fire, cannot comprehend what he has done, she said.
"He knows he has done something wrong but he is too young to understand."
Rotorua Fire Brigade Senior Station Officer Richard Anastasi said the fire highlighted the message about getting out and staying out.
"The whole house was totally involved when we got there."
Firefighters quickly had the fire under control and managed to save two vehicles parked near the house, although one vehicle - a 4x4 - suffered damage to one side.
Mr Anastasi said the house had no smoke alarms.
"The biggest safety message is having working smoke alarms and knowing what to do in a fire."
"We're more than happy to come and advise people on smoke alarms and if they qualify they can get free smoke alarms," he said.
The family had been offered temporary accommodation at the Willowhaven Holiday Park next door, the Ngongotaha mother said, while a friend had set up a Facebook page to receive donations of food and clothes for the family.
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