A homeowner was injured while trying to put out a fire with water and a duvet while his family slept.
The man suffered facial burns as he tried to fight the house fire in Wainoni, Christchurch, this morning.
The blaze, which started in the master bedroom of the Ottawa Rd house at 6.35am, caused extensive damage.
Four fire trucks attended the fire at what was first thought to be an unoccupied house, but five people were later found to have escaped the blaze.
The man sought help for his burns with a neighbour, and was taken to Christchurch Hospital suffering minor injuries.
The house was due to be receiving earthquake damage repair in two weeks, fire investigator Kelvin Hampton said.
The cause of the blaze remains undetermined, although witness statements are consistent, Mr Hampton said.
"From the point of view of the Fire Service, I would suggest to anyone in the similar situation of discovering an early fire to think very carefully about risking their safety to attempt to extinguish it.''
"A house is property and human life is way more important,'' he said.
"In the time it takes you to go away and get a pot, a fire can get a lot bigger by the time you get back.''