For Napier mum Tangi-Matua losing "some things" in a fire which swept through the kitchen and lounge of her rental Tamatea home yesterday morning was not too hard to deal with.

That's because her two most precious items, her three and four-year-old children, were safe and staying at her mother's house.

"There was nothing more valuable in there than the children," she said as friends and family began arriving to recover what they could from the Plunket St property.

The fire, which broke out just before 7.15am, gutted two rooms while smoke damaged the rest of the house.


The blaze started after a pan of oil on the stove-top ignited and spread to the walls and fittings.

Tangi-Matua (who did not want her full name used) said her 17-year-old cousin, staying at the house, put the pan on to make breakfast.

"It was such a cold morning she went out to get some firewood to get the fire going - she was only gone for five minutes."

The teenager heard the fire ignite and saw flames through the kitchen window.

She ran in to raise the alarm realising Tangi-Matua and the children were still in bed.

"She came in yelling 'get out of the house - run run!'"

At that stage Tangi-Matua heard the smoke alarm go off and was already scooping up the youngsters and making for a safe exit, calling 111 on her cellphone.Meanwhile, her cousin went around the back and grabbed the garden hose and began playing it on the flames which caused the kitchen window to blow out.

"She felt so bad - she tried to stop it."

Neighbours though arrived and got her away from the house.

Tangi-Matua said the firefighters were "fantastic" and quickly had the fire under control.

She said neighbours arrived "from everywhere" and gave them blankets and food.

Senior Station Officer Glen Drew said Tangi-Matua got everything right.

From having a smoke alarm to making the 111 call quickly and ensuring she quickly got herself and her children out to safety as quickly as possible and not trying to go back in to grab belongings .

"That is a big no-no because as she saw, fire can move so fast."

Mr Drew said the fire crews worked quickly as flames were beginning to get into the ceiling where they could quickly spread.

"They did a great job."

Tangi-Matua said she hoped it would serve in educating people about the danger of unattended pots on a stove and the importance of getting everyone out as quickly as possible.

"Lives are more important than things."

Friends and family were looking at setting up somewhere to stay until the house, which she has lived in for 18 months, is repaired.