A fire took less than three minutes to spread through a house in Hastings this afternoon.

Emergency services are on the scene at the Hinau St, where one half of a two unit property appears to have been gutted.

A neighbour, who gave he name only as Edna, had been hanging out her washing when she heard screaming.

She said: "A lady came running out [of the house] yelling 'please help me, please help me'."

At that stage, the fire appeared to be small, but had spread through the house in around three minutes.

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Three occupants were home at the time -including a toddler - and all were able to get out of the house.

Edna said the neighbours in the adjoining house had been unaware of the fire until they heard screams.

A nearby resident said they could see smoke from the fire at their house a block away.
More soon.