A family was forced to flee their burning house in Hastings in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

A mother, her elderly father and her two children escaped the house on Grove Rd in Mayfair about 2am. Three fire crews arrived at the scene shortly after.

All four were unharmed.

Neighbour Karen Spurgeon said she became aware of the fire when her neighbour ran up her driveway screaming.

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"At first we thought someone was being attacked," Spurgeon told Hawke's Bay Today.

"We went out and we saw the house was on fire.

"She'd managed to get all her children out and her father."

She said the woman had been amazing, remaining calm and keeping her kids safe.

"I was so impressed with her, and the first thing the firemen said to her was good job getting your family out."

Karen Spurgeon in front of her neighbours' house. Her own home luckily escaped without any damage. Photo / Laura Wiltshire
Karen Spurgeon in front of her neighbours' house. Her own home luckily escaped without any damage. Photo / Laura Wiltshire

She said the family had gone to stay with their extended whanau, but had returned this morning to pick up some of their belongings.

"She's very strongly supported by her whanau."

She said the most important thing was no one was hurt during the blaze.

Bob Palmer, who is in charge of the investigation into the fire, said it had started in the kitchen, and an investigation was ongoing as to the exact cause.

He said the fire was a reminder for people to check their smoke alarms.

"Smoke alarms woke the occupants."

The house, which is a housing New Zealand House, has sustained serious damage.

One side of the roof collapsed, the inside was charred and the windows couldn't withstand the heat.

The house on Grove Rd that was significantly damaged following a fire in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Photo / Paul Taylor
The house on Grove Rd that was significantly damaged following a fire in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Photo / Paul Taylor

It is understood one of the neighbouring houses also sustained damage to its windows.

Housing New Zealand said it was working to find the family alternative housing as soon as possible.

"We will continue to support them in any way we can.

"We will also help link them to support agencies to help them replace furniture and other possessions lost in the fire.

"We are pleased the tenant and family are safe and that the smoke alarms did their job and alerted the family to the fire."