A seventh house fire in Hawke's Bay in less than three weeks could have turned deadly if the family of five in the house hadn't been so well prepared for it, firefighters say.
Firefighters spent four hours battling the fire on Waikoau Rd, near Tangoio, on Tuesday in a blaze that spread quickly to woodland around the property.
When it was finally contained, all that was left of the home was ash, rubble and scorched corrugated iron.
Fire and Emergency NZ's Hawke's Bay area manager Ken Cooper said parents and children were in the house at the time the fire started.
The parents had saved the lives of their children, he said.
Fire crews from Napier, Bay View and Heretaunga, as well as a helicopter and further rural appliances from across Hawke's Bay, helped extinguish the blaze, one of seven house fires in the region since December 16.
Cooper said the increase in the number of structure fires in recent weeks in Hawke's Bay is of concern.
"There doesn't appear to be any links between the fires, but one of our key messages is to talk to your family about having an escape plan, which was significant at the Tangoio structure fire," he said.
"The family managed to escape – the older members managed to get the young ones out safely as they had a plan."
Cooper said while still under investigation, early indications suggest an electrical issue was the cause of the fire.
Later that same day, firefighters successfully stopped a fire in the wall of a house from spreading at a property on Bill Hercock St, Pirimai.
A fireplace malfunction was the cause of a house fire at a Dannevirke property on December 28, while an investigation into a fire that destroyed a house on Norrie Pl, Tamatea, on Boxing Day is still ongoing.
A Pirimai house was also damaged in a blaze that started in the wash-house on December 26.
Cooper urged the public to test their smoke alarm once a month, check its expiry date every six months, and replace it all together every 10 years.
"Having a working smoke alarm is critical – it gives early indication of a fire so firefighters can get there quickly to limit the damage and gives the occupants the opportunity to escape," he said.
Cooper said more than 50 per cent of structure fires are caused by unattended cooking.
"It could be kids coming home from school and cooking, or a parent drinking whilst cooking - you simply cannot leave cooking unattended."
The cause of a house fire in Akina in the early hours of Christmas Eve remains unknown. Firefighters spent over an hour battling the blaze on Wavell St after multiple calls from the public.
A family was away when their house was all but destroyed by a fire in Pakipaki on December 16.
Seven fire trucks responded to the fire on Old Main Rd at a house where a grandmother and her grandchildren lived.
The incidents are still under investigation.
A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokewoman said people should never assume their smoke alarm was working.
"And make sure the fireplace has a screen with a proper fireguard and the chimney has been checked and/or swept in the last year," a spokeswoman added.