Fire investigators will determine the cause of a fire that destroyed a shed and significantly damaged a house in Beaumaris Ave in Castlecliff on Tuesday afternoon.

The property owner, who did not want to be named, said he and two visitors were having lunch in the lounge about 12.30pm when neighbours' shouting alerted them to the fire.

"We looked out and saw the shed was totally engulfed," he said.

"The hose is connected out there so we couldn't even get to it. I've been working on renovating the house and had redone the shed. There was lots of wood and tools stored in it. I've been replacing the weatherboards on the house and had been working on it this morning. Now the rooms at the back of the house are all damaged."

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The owner, who is insured, managed to move his ute and boat away from the fire. His dog and one of his cats were unharmed but he was concerned about his other cat which was missing after the fire.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Whanganui area commander Gary Ward said six fire appliances attended the call.

"The shed at the rear of the house has been totally destroyed and the fire has spread into the back of the house," Mr Ward said.

"The first two crews to arrive did a really good job of containing the fire to the back of the house. There is significant damage externally and smoke has gone right through.

"A fire investigator will be coming to ascertain the cause but we have no reason to think there is anything suspicious."

Mr Ward said there was an acetylene cylinder in the back yard of the property but it did not appear to have been affected by the fire and was being cooled on Tuesday afternoon.