Four people thought to be caught in an explosive Hastings fire this morning have been accounted for.
Hastings fire service senior station officer Bruno Saathof said the initial 5.09am report was for three missing but upon arrival it was ascertained four people lived in the flat adjoining a large shed fully ablaze: a couple, a child and a grandmother.
He said an initial sweep of the Norton Rd property found no persons present in the 20m shed and adjoining flat. Once the fire was under control a more detailed search confirmed it was empty.
The occupants were spoken with and confirmed safe but because people left the property shortly before the fire "and the circumstances surrounding the incident", it was being treated as suspicious.
An immediate neighbour, that declined to be named, said she was awake when she heard "a very loud bang" and saw flames so dialled 111.
She then helped the occupants of a rear flat over the fence to safety on her property.
The owner of burned property, Jim Lowe, said the shed was used for storage and an initial inspection showed the fire likely started in the flat where the four people lived.
A fire investigation is underway.