Masterton police are investigating an unexplained fire that gutted a house within 300 metres of the police station and suffocated a pet dog.

The fire in Masonic St, Masterton, was reported at 10.21pm on Friday.

Senior firefighter Ross Hoare said the call came in as "persons reported" which meant there were possibly people inside the house.

"There was some urgency involved."

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The fire was well alight when firefighters arrived and nearby overhead powerlines were "arcing from the smoke - we were a bit concerned about those coming down".

Mr Hoare said a woman had been home when the fire began at the front of the house but "she was out the back and hadn't noticed it".

The main concern was a report that the woman's daughter might be in a front bedroom of the house.

"We used the hoses to knock out the majority of the fire and then went in to search for her daughter - who wasn't there, thankfully."

Mr Hoare and his partner did find a dog who was overcome by smoke in a back bedroom of the house.

Police attempted to resuscitate the dog using oxygen from one of several fire appliances present, but were unsuccessful.

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said she was woken by "glowing light" through the curtains - both from the fire engines and from the fire just across the road in the narrow street.

"It was that intense."

Another reported burn marks on their car which was parked nearby.

Mr Hoare said if the house had been fitted with smoke alarms, the fire would have been discovered much earlier.

"If there had been someone in there, they might have survived but it was pretty close - touch and go."

The CIB is investigating.