A young couple looked on helplessly as they lost everything in a blaze that destroyed their farmhouse south of Havelock North.
Wilson and Ash Delany waited 20 minutes before a fire engine arrived at the giant flames of their on their rural home on Mackenzie Rd, Kahuranaki, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
But by that point, it was too late.
The fire destroyed everything except their dogs and car, said the couple, who initially tried to tackle the blaze themselves.
"My first thought was to save the house with what I had available, which was the garden hose," Wilson said.
"It soon kicked in pretty fast it wasn't going to do much, so I drove our ute out of the carport. Even then it was so hot the rubber around the windows is damaged.
"Then we just watched it go. It was a matter of 20 minutes or so by the time anyone reached us - we knew we had nothing left."
Ash, who managed to rescue their dogs, said they didn't even have time to put shoes on before fleeing.
"We left with nothing – not even shoes. People are giving us clothing, food, household items, it's taken us from one extreme to the other," she said.
"We were storing an elderly friend's items in the garage too, so all her things are gone – it was everything she had in her life. We're passing things on to her – we're young, we can start again and have each other."
The couple had been living at the home for a year and have since moved into an Airbnb nearby.
The pair said they've been overwhelmed with the love and support shown by those close to them and complete strangers, with a givealittle page set up on their behalf having already surpassed $3000.
"My wife and I would like to thank the amazing community in the Tuki Valley for everything they've done. We are well, just grateful that we have each other and the animals. God was looking over us.
"Especially in the farming community, we really want to say thank you," Ash added. "Wilson is running the farm at the moment and didn't even have shoes, and somebody has donated some so thank you."
Fire and Emergency NZ Hawke's Bay Area Commander Ken Cooper said the cause of the fire could not be determined, with Wilson and Ash also unsure.
Cooper said the fire was an example of just how quickly fire can spread.
"It's a timely reminder to make sure you and your whānau are fire safe at home. Fire is fast and can be deadly within three minutes," he said.
"That's why you need working smoke alarms to give you an early warning of fire and an escape plan so you and your whanau can get out safely and quickly."
"Checking your smoke alarms are working and making an escape plan now could save your life."
Three fire pumping appliances, two tankers and one rural unit attended the scene on Tuesday night, according to a Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokeswoman.