Working smoke alarms are credited with saving the lives of two men last night, after the house they were in caught on fire.

Just before 8pm fire services were called to a house on Waiohiki Rd, Taradale.

A fire had broken out at the rear of the house, while the men were inside.

A witness at the scene said the house looked like it was burning from end to end, and he thought the house was "well involved".

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"Fires look different at night," he said, "the flames looked like they were leaping from the roof into the sky."

He said he had seen Taradale, Napier and Hastings fire services at the scene.

Traffic was directed around the scene, where three fire appliances and two tankers fought to contain the flames.

The Taradale volunteer fire brigade were also at the scene.

Officer in charge Bruce Botherway said fire services had been able to contain the fire to the rear of the house. However he said there was extensive smoke and heat damage inside.

An ambulance was called to the scene, and treated the two people who were then released.

"Both occupants were at home and were alerted by smoke alarms," he said. "It goes to show making sure fire alarms are working does save lives.

"Often we come to places where smoke alarms could have saved a life."

The two men would be staying with family, some of whom gathered at the scene last night.

Fire services were still working at the scene late last night. Mr Botherway said an investigations unit would be returning this morning to ascertain the cause of the fire.