Whanganui fire chief Bernie Rush has expressed concern at the spate of house fires in the area over the past month.

"It's a range of causes but it is substantially more than we are used to having," he said.

There have been seven house fires in Whanganui last week, not including Friday's major house fire in Waitotara.

"It's double the number we normally get."

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What was more concerning to Mr Rush was that there had been an increase above the average number of fires for five weeks in a row.

And the causes were not what was expected at this time of the year.

"I think the message again is smoke alarms. The Savage Crescent one, the occupants were alerted by smoke alarms. It just shows the importance of getting out quickly."

He said a fire could develop in one room before it was noticed in other parts of the house, so it was important to have smoke alarms in each bedroom.

Mr Rush also encouraged people to get old electrical equipment checked.

Heaters should also be plugged into a wall socket not at the multi-plug.

Fire investigators are still to determine the cause of Thursday's fire at Harrison St.

However, the Savage Crescent fire was started when a TV caught fire.

Fire destroys 57-years of memories

When Dave Toohill got a call on Friday afternoon to say his house was on fire, he didn't believe it.

But after a speedy trip from Whanganui to Waitotara, Mr Toohill returned to find his Nukumaru Parade destroyed.

Mr Toohill and his wife Rose have lived in the home near Waiinu Beach for 17 years.

Both in their mid-70s and married for 57 years, the couple have lost all their possessions and memories.

The couple were both out when the fire started at just after 12pm.

"Someone saw the smoke coming out of the eves," Mr Toohill said.

"By the time I got there it was just about gone. It was a helluva shock. I can't believe how quickly it went."

Before the Toohill's arrived home neighbours had helped save a boat and tractor, pulling them off Mr Toohill's property before they were too badly damaged.

Mr Toohill has been told the fire started in the lounge along a wall where he had a TV and stereo plugged in.

Neighbouring properties also had minor damage.

Mr Toohill also praised the fire service.

"They just came and got stuck in and they were there for a few hours. They were very good."

"Everyone's very much supporting is. People are good."