The gutting of a Kaitaia home has prompted another reminder from the town's senior firefighter that children and matches do not mix.

Chief fire officer Colin Kitchen said the fire was started by a 4-year-old child playing with a barbecue lighter in a bedroom of the Matilda Place home on Thursday afternoon.

The fire exploded beyond control when the tenant opened the bedroom door to douse the flames with a bucket of water.

The heat was so intense at a neighbouring house that spouting melted, a glass door exploded and building paper in the eaves caught fire. That property was saved but suffered smoke and water damage.


Mr Kitchen said the blaze offered another reminder that children and matches did not mix.

"Matches and lighters should never be left where children can get to them. They should be put on top of the fridge or somewhere else where little hands can't reach them."

The house was well alight by the time the first appliance arrived and there was nothing the crews could do to save it. The fire was the biggest incident of an extraordinarily busy period for the brigade, which responded to 10 alarms in 24 hours.