A house in Waverley was "pretty much totally destroyed" in a fire yesterday.

Whanganui firefighters were called to the scene on Kohi Rd at 1.12pm, as the Waverley brigade was short-crewed, station officer Bryan Coskerie said.

"It was well involved when the Patea appliance arrived."

It took the Whanganui crew 33 minutes to get there, by which time the house was gutted.

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Mr Coskerie said crews would often get called to faraway fires because with a small fire a house could still be saved after 30 minutes, but this one could not.

"It was a bit windy and hot out there and, of course, it was an old wooden home, and they do burn very quickly," he said.

In rural areas they also had to wait for a tanker to arrive, as they did not have a water source. It was also important for the fire to be put out even if the house was gutted, because it helped fire investigators do their job.

Nobody was home when the fire started, Mr Coskerie said.

Three trucks attended, including Whanganui, Patea and Waverley brigades. A tanker from Hawera also went to the scene.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.