Police and fire investigators are trying to decipher the seemingly complicated events that led to the arson of a Horowhenua home in the early hours of this morning.
Fire services were called to the Levin home at 2.55am to find the home fully involved in flames and nobody inside.
It was the "meaty" barking of a dog that alerted Toni Spencer and her daughter to the fire that rampaged through the neighbouring house, her father's empty rental property.
Spencer said that within 20 minutes of calling the fire brigade, the trucks had arrived and firemen had "pounced into action".
"I have never seen firemen working, they were in and out and in and out, what was scary was that the roof was collapsing but the firemen were inside the house with hoses," she said. "Their oxygens tanks were whistling as they came out."
She said that there were suspicions of arson straight away due to the "complicated breakdown in interpersonal relationships" between the tenants and others.
"It's going to be difficult for the investigators to decipher this," she said.
Spencer's daughter, who wished to remain anonymous, said that it was a blessing in disguise that the house had burnt down because of the state the tenants of four years had left it in.
She said that the house had broken windows, broken walls and mould everywhere.
"They moved their stuff out but left their crap," she said.
The tenant, Kaine Layne, who had lived in the property with his former girlfriend, said that he hadn't finished moving out his possessions and had lost his children's beds and drawers in the fire.
After being alerted to the fire at 3.30am, Layne arrived to watch in "devastation" as his former home was engulfed in flames.
Manawatu Criminal Investigation Branch Detective Sergeant Philip Skoglund was on the scene this morning and later confirmed the fire had been intentionally lit. He said that the fire had started in a rear bedroom.
"Preliminary examination has identified that a mattress in that room has been set alight which has then taken a hold and then extensively damaged [the house]," he said.
"Arsons are normally difficult investigations to resolve simply because a lot of the evidence is destroyed however we work closely with the fire investigators and they are the experts in this field and we do reply a lot on their expertise around the scene examination."
Sergeant Skoglund said police were keeping an open mind about who may have committed this offence and he asked the public to come forward with any information that might aid the investigation.