A pile of hot laundry left on top of a dryer was the likely cause of a fire which destroyed a Hamilton house, leaving a pregnant woman and her family of seven with nothing.

The Odette St, Melville, house is now just a charred, skeletal remain after the blaze on Sunday night.

Waikato fire risk management officer Peter Hallett said it was difficult to be determinitative of the cause as the family only saw the dryer on fire, but said it was possibly caused by a pile of hot clothes sitting on top of the dryer and spontaneously combusting.

It was a timely reminder for dryer users to ensure the clothes go through their full cycle before being taken out.

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Hallett said on the day, the family were making the most of a day of free power by their power company and were getting all their washing done.

House in Hamilton burns down on Sunday night

However, one load had been pulled out before going through the cooling cycle. Some of the items in the load had likely been contaminated by organic oils, possibly a canola oil, which had led to a chemical reaction, causing the clothing to spontaneously combust.

He was pleased that the family had been cleaning the lint tray and had not plugged the dryer into a multi-plug, but wanted to remind people of the importance of airing hot clothes

Sarah Bridge, 24, had lived in the home for 10 years with her partner, their two sons, aged 1 and 3, her mother and two brothers aged 23 and 27.

All of Sarah Bridge's family, including sons, Ryan, 3, and Ryder, 1, escaped but only with seconds to spare before the house went up in flames. Photo / Supplied
All of Sarah Bridge's family, including sons, Ryan, 3, and Ryder, 1, escaped but only with seconds to spare before the house went up in flames. Photo / Supplied
Not a lot was salvageable in this bedroom. Photo / Belinda Feek
Not a lot was salvageable in this bedroom. Photo / Belinda Feek

It was just after 10pm, and Bridge was in her room trying to get her 3-year-old, Ryan, to sleep when her younger brother, who was in the caravan outside, noticed the power cut.

"His electricity went off and [caravan] started getting hot, so he opened up the door and he went to go through the back door but it was engulfed in flames. Then my older brother smelt plastic and all I heard was 'fire, get the f*** out'."

She grabbed Ryan before running and getting younger son, Ryder, and fleeing outside.

However, in the chaos, the family dog, Lucy - known to get scared easily - hid behind a chair.

The 9-year-old labrador-border collie cross was found later found dead, devastating the family, but mostly her mother, Lucy's best mate.

She believed it took less than 4 minutes for the house to turn into an inferno.

"As soon as we got outside the whole house was up [in flames] ... as soon as we got out the front door it was all up in flames."

The family's beloved dog Lucy was found dead in the lounge, pictured. Photo / Belinda Feek
The family's beloved dog Lucy was found dead in the lounge, pictured. Photo / Belinda Feek
The kitchen appliances were left buckled and twisted, while the kitchen itself was so badly damaged it burnt through the roof. Photo / Belinda Feek
The kitchen appliances were left buckled and twisted, while the kitchen itself was so badly damaged it burnt through the roof. Photo / Belinda Feek

The family, who were renting the Housing NZ house, did not have insurance but were put up in a motel by the Government department the first night.

This week they had split up and were staying at friend's houses. However, they were buoyed by news that Housing NZ had found them a new house, which they would move into on Friday.

While they had a house, they were left with nothing, but after a request for donations by a friend's mother on Facebook had seen an overwhelming number of people donate everything from clothes, beds, food and clothing.

But they were still in need of more, so a givealittle page had been created to help the family get back on their feet.

Being six month's pregnant also added to the quagmire, but Bridge said they didn't know the Facebook post had been made let alone the givealittle page been set up.

She was humbled by the support and thanked everyone for their donations.

The charred remains of the lounge. Photo / Belinda Feek
The charred remains of the lounge. Photo / Belinda Feek
The Odette St, Hamilton, home remains fenced off after ripped through it on Sunday night. Photo / Belinda Feek
The Odette St, Hamilton, home remains fenced off after ripped through it on Sunday night. Photo / Belinda Feek

The fire itself, was still sinking in, she said.

"We're all still in shock, but we're just so grateful for everything that we've been given and for the support that we've had."

She said while the rental had smoke alarms, there wasn't one in the laundry. They were already outside by the time they went off, she said.

She said they escaped so quickly thanks to her two brothers; one noticing the power out and the other smelling burning plastic.

"We were very lucky. Basically I had enough time to run down the hallway, grab my youngest son ... run back up the hallway and out the front door behind my mum and older brother, then as soon as we were out the house was up in flames.

"We tried calling for our dog but she didn't come."

Raewyn Vooght, area manager, Housing New Zealand, said they moved quickly to help the family and were pleased to find them a new home.

"We've also helped them get in contact with other services to get the further assistance that is available.

"Housing New Zealand takes the matter of home safety very seriously. Our houses have the latest photo electric smoke alarms fitted and these are checked twice yearly including battery replacement."

* To donate people can head to the givealittle page
DRYER SAFETY

• Always let clothes in a dryer run their full cycle, including cooling down,
• Clean lint tray after every use,
• If removing clothes while hot, air them out before putting them away,
• Ensure it's not plugged in using a multi-plug.