Rats are believed to be responsible for a fire that destroyed the home of a retired police officer yesterday.
The Te Puke house fire is one of two yesterday believed to have been started by rodents chewing through wiring - the other was in Southland.
Bay of Plenty fire safety officer Jon Rewi said the cooler nights could see more vermin nesting in homes.
He urged people who were concerned about rats or mice in the walls of their homes to do something about it. "Get the wiring checked for God's sake because there are many fires that start that way," Mr Rewi said.
Yesterday, Brian Carney sifted through what remained in his charred No 1 Rd home.
Fire swept through the home's kitchen, toilet and laundry area as 72-year-old Mr Carney, his wife and adult daughter slept. Fire authorities said a closed kitchen door saved their lives and it is believed rats are responsible.
The family woke to the sound of explosions in enough time to escape as neighbours called 111.
Walking through his home's blackened and melted kitchen later yesterday, Mr Carney told the Bay of Plenty Times he was saddened that his family's future was now uncertain.
Mr Carney, a former British and Tauranga police officer, said he became ill with a rare form of lymphoma several years ago and because he was on a disability allowance the family did not have a lot of money. However, he was relieved his family's treasured possessions such as his Queen's bravery medal were not destroyed.
The medal was displayed in a glass frame with a Queen's letter commending Mr Carney for his efforts as a police officer. "I arrested some guy with a gun on him, a long time ago."
Mr Carney said his career taught him the importance of getting out and staying out.
Mr Carney said his wife was understandably upset.
The couple and their daughter were staying with friends in Papamoa. Other friends have offered a flat for them to stay in while the house is assessed and repaired.
Friends have also offered a car for Mr Carney to use over the next few days. "That the only good thing we've got going for us - our friends."
His family's three cars were written off by the fire, which spread and destroyed to their adjoining carport and garage.
A mouse is believed to have caused a house fire in Southland yesterday.
Firefighters were called to the house, near Thornbury, 30km east of Invercargill, about 1.30am, after its owners reported the heat pump on fire.
House owner Colin Tait got his family out of the house, and when he returned seconds later, the small fire had spread halfway up the wall. He used fire extinguisher to put out the flames before getting back outside.
An electrical fault in the heat pump, believed to have been caused by a mouse chewing through wires, started the fire.