A 200m trail of blood has been found leading from a house fire in Hawke's Bay.
Police are investigating the suspicious fire on Holmes Place in the Hastings suburb of Flaxmere.
The house, which was empty at the time, went up in flames about 3pm yesterday.
Detective Sergeant Daryl Moore said it was extensively damaged.
He said there was evidence that someone had entered the house shortly before the fire, and left before emergency services arrived.
"There is a trail of blood leading from the house down to Boston Crescent which is over two hundred metres away. "
Moore said police would "like to speak to a "person of interest" who was likely to have a fresh injury to one of his hands or arms that will be bandaged or covered with plasters.
He was seen in Boston Cres shortly after the fire and is believed to be aged between 25 and 30 years old.
He is described as Polynesian and approximately 175 to 180cm tall, about 85 to 95kg and of athletic build.
Holding his 1-year-old daughter outside their fire-ravaged house yesterday, owner Mauluulu Taulafo said he was glad his family had not been home.
Many of its windows had been blown out. The interior and exterior pale panelling had burned black at the worst-affected end of the house.
Speaking through a translator, his cousin, Tupu Sanele, Taulafo said his family were shopping when the fire started: "Then we got called back, and it was already burned."
Sanele said her cousin and their extended family were "shocked about what's happened".
She said the main thing was that nobody had been hurt in the fire. Her family would take in Taulafo, his wife and their daughter.
Hastings Fire Service officer Jamie Keenan said when they arrived one room of the house was well alight, and the fire was beginning to move to the other end of the house.
"Two more rooms [were] just starting to go up," he said.
After the fire was out, Keenan said part of the house was badly damaged but the other end was just smoke damaged.
Fire Safety had investigated the blaze, but its cause could not be confirmed last night.
Neighbours lined the street as emergency services worked on the fire. Police tape cordoned the end of the cul-de-sac and a property opposite the burned home where it is understood the blood trail was found.
A police guard remained until the evening to preserve the scene until fire investigators finished examining it.
A nearby resident who had been one of the first on the scene when the fire started said Taulafo's family had been "the best neighbours".
"I heard the sound of breaking glass. Then I saw a wall of smoke heading over the house," he said. "There was smoke all over the place."
The fire had been "pretty large", with flames roaring out the windows and through the roof at one end of the house.
The neighbour, who did not want to be named, said he had tried to use his garden hose on the fire, "not that there was much the hose could do".
The sought man was described as having a "scraggly afro of dark hair", about 5cm long, with stubble on his face.
He was wearing a navy blue t-shirt and spoke English with a strong accent.
Anyone who has seen this man, or has any information, is asked to call Hawke's Bay Police CIB on (06) 873 0531 or call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.