A Flaxmere family was today looking for a new home after losing everything in a spectacular blaze which destroyed their rented unit last night.
The family, who occupied the rear of two units joined by a carport in Liverpool Crescent, and was understood to include at least two children, was not at the property when Hawke's Bay Today called today.
But neighbour John Tapuni said he believed the spread of the fire had been so rapid nothing had been able to be saved.
Living in the front unit with his partner and young son, he was thankful to escape without loss, and thankful for a community which rallied to rescue furniture as flames threatened to engulf his home.
"They all got in and helped," he said.
The alarm was thought to have been raised by a 14-year-old girl who saw the fire from her home next door and rang the fire service at 9.40pm, as firefighters were on their way back to Hastings after saving an old house from fire at Poukawa.
Mr Tapuni was watching television about the same time and was alerted by "banging," as the fire leapt through the windows and roof, and neighbours banged on the corrugated iron fence.
Fire Service senior station officer Kerry Harford, who had been at the Poukawa fire, said flames were engulfing the unit when he arrived.
The first fire, reported at 7.54pm by a motorist who noticed smoke coming from a house beside State Highway 2 at Poukawa, caused much less damage.
Mr Harford said the alertness of the motorist saved the property from a fire which was confined largely to birdsnests in the roof. The fire was apparently ignited by wiring gnawed by rats or mice.
No one was home at the time, and firefighters broke into the roof to extinguish the fire.
One fire crew was absent from its station for more than four hours, heading from the Flaxmere fire to another fire in a 10-metre-long shelter belt at a property off Oak Avenue, between Flaxmere and Frimley.
Earlier yesterday, there were fears of a major fire at Awatoto as firefighters head towards an ominous pall of black smoke.
But when they arrived at the Waitangi Road premises they found the fire was contained to a ground-level cooling tower.