A blazing stove-top element has been blamed for igniting a house fire in Masterton that left a mother and her three children homeless.
Fire safety officer Bruce Cole said the blaze on Sunday had been started by a stove-top element that was left on in the kitchen of the Montgomery Cres home.
The fire started soon after 8am on Sunday.
The mother and her children were sleeping at the time but fled their home unharmed.
They were outside by the time firefighters arrived.
Mr Cole said burn patterns inside the gutted home and the fact that the element switch was in the on position were "very clear indications that all pointed to unattended cooking as the cause of the fire".
"It happens too often and it's so easy to prevent, and a danger the fire service will continue to highlight."
The woman declined to be named and it was understood the owner of the two-bedroom unit had rehoused the family at a Masterton motel.
Firefighters on Sunday said the first fire crew to arrive had extinguished the blaze in less than 10 minutes and fortunately prevented major structural damage to the home.
Meanwhile, several community groups have been working to help replace essential belongings and possessions the woman and her children lost in the fire.
Masterton District Council community services manager Jan Gerritsen said council support had been sought through the mayoral fund. Victim Support, Wairarapa Resource Centre, Supergrans and the Salvation Army were also involved.
"It's hideous this family has had to walk out of their home and leave everything behind and I'm sure our community will rally behind them because that's how our community is."