Wet weather conditions have made it difficult for firefighters to gain access to fight a house fire in Paengaroa.
Eight fire crews from as far as Edgecumbe and Rotorua spent several hours fighting the blaze, which has partly gutted the two-storey home.
Maketu Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Shane Gourlay said 36 firefighters were called in to help save the house on Maungarangi Rd about 2km from the Paengaroa township just before 7.15pm on Saturday night.
"The two-storey house was well involved when we got there," he said.
Gourlay said fortunately the homeowner, who was in his kitchen when the fire took hold, managed to escape uninjured.
He said fire crews had to use four-wheel drive vehicles and utes to reach the blaze which was about 1km down a long driveway and took about 15 minutes to get there.
"The significant issue for us was getting our trucks down the driveway," he said.
"Because the driveway was really muddy we needed four-wheel drive vehicles to get there."
Tauranga had 20.8 of rain fall from midnight on Friday to about 1pm on Sunday.
Extra fire crews were called from out of Tauranga to assist because they had the 4WD capacity, he said.
Gourlay said the next challenge was trying to get enough of a water supply into the area because of its location and distance from the road.
"Fortunately the homeowner had a water tank which we were able to use," he said.
"We managed to save about half of the house, but the rest was water damaged."
Gourlay said most of the fire damage was in the lounge area after the fire started in an open fire place and soon "spread to the rafters".
"Because the house contained native timbers the fire spread quite quickly."
The exact cause of the fire was still being investigated, but Gourlay said it appeared it may have had something to do with the open fire's flue.
Gourlay said fire crews were at the property for several hours. He did not get home until 11pm.
A man who worked at the property said the owner was too upset to talk.
Gourlay said this was the second fire the Maketu Volunteer Fire Brigade had attended in less than a week.
On August 1 a four-bedroom farmhouse on Maketu Rd was destroyed and a 49-year-old man suffered burns. The focus of that investigation centred around a cellphone charger.