A fire destroyed a home in Middlemarch yesterday and left the occupants, including a mother and her two sons, counting their losses.
A family friend said the mother was a nurse who was "well respected" in the community. The family had just moved into the home with the owners.
The daughter of the homeowners, who preferred not to be named, said her parents had "pretty much lost everything", while the nurse and her family lost "a lot" of their possessions.
A local cafe owner, who also preferred not to be named, said the community had "pulled together" to help the family and the homeowners.
The fire engulfed the Mold St property about 8.30am. Volunteer firefighters from Middlemarch and Outram fought the blaze. No one was at home at the time.
Specialist fire investigator Mike Harrison, of Dunedin, said the damage was so extensive a cause might never be known.
Middlemarch Volunteer Fire Brigade deputy chief fire officer Blair Dale said his crew were still at the scene about 2.30pm yesterday dampening down hotspots while fire investigators worked to determine the cause.
"She was pretty well-involved by the time we showed up," Mr Dale said. "She was out of control."
The toughest part was getting access to water, which they had to pump from a nearby creek, he said. "The community is rallying around."