Karl Henderson found himself locked outside his burning shop when he realised his dog Stella was stuck inside.

Wife Tracy had woken him before 2am on Saturday after passing motorists sounded horns and screamed at them to exit their flat as flames licked it from below.

They lived above The Quay Fish & Chip Takeaways on Meeannee Quay in Westshore.

As smoke billowed from under the door of a bedroom his children use when visiting, they stumbled downstairs with Stella following.

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They didn't take the usual building exit, instead taking an exit closer to the shop.

"I wanted to see what was happening," he said.

Outside they saw their shop billowing flames but Stella was nowhere to be found.

"I banged on the door and couldn't get in so went to the other door. Tracey found me a rock and I smashed it open and got back in there and called to Stella.

He could not find her and was forced to flee as smoke and flames worsened.

"I was yelling to the firemen, 'Look, my dog's in there, for God's sake!'"

Neighbours Derek and Debbie Marr were woken by a "very loud" Emmerson Transport line-haul truck "just tooting and tooting", Mrs Marr said.

"We looked out the bedroom and there were flames just billowing out."

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As Mrs Marr rang 111 Mr Marr and the truck driver threw stones at the upstairs windows as they screamed for the Hendersons to get out.

Napier Fire Service senior station officer Mark McGill said that when he arrived three rooms were on fire, with the biggest blaze at the shop.

"They were quite lucky to get out," he said.

After warning fire crews to be wary of cooking oils they attacked the blaze with water hoses, bringing it under control.

Mr McGill said an investigation on the cause of the fire was yet to be completed but it was not being treated as suspicious.

Neighbour Gina Graham manages the nearby Westshore Beach Inn, where she too was woken by motorists before smoke from the nearby fire set off alarms.

"I sat with Karl and Tracey," she said.

"They didn't have anywhere to stay so we have given them a place to stay for as long as they need."

The Hendersons both worked in education before going into business, with Mrs Henderson recently quitting her job at Pukehamoamoa School to work full time at the shop.

"They are a lovely couple and they have done so well since they took over the lease last year - they built the business up and up and they are great neighbours," Mrs Marr said.

Most of their personal possessions were destroyed by a sticky hazardous film from the smoke.

A friend of the Hendersons, Leon Ford, said they had no insurance and would struggle to replace lost chattels should the building's owner repair the damage.

Mr Ford has started a Givealittle page for people wishing to help the couple.

"It is only two weeks until Christmas and I can't even imagine how it feels to lose a close one," he said.

"But to be also burdened with the loss of your income and your home, with children to feed and no insurance to cover the basics ... I felt I had to do something."

To donate visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/helpkarlandtracy.