Fire investigators are determining what sparked two separate house blazes in Northland just days apart.

An elderly couple were forced from their unit on Maunu Rd, Whangārei, after a fire believed to have started in the kitchen about 10pm on Sunday went through the roof and caused extensive damage.

They had been in the unit, attached to two others, for just two months. The internal damage is so bad they have been unable to return to the property.

Firewalls at the end of the house and in the garage stopped the fire from spreading to the other units. No one was injured and a local motel, Casablanca, kindly offered a night's free accommodation for the people removed from the units on Sunday.

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Meanwhile, firefighters from Dargaville and Te Kopuru volunteer brigades were called to a house on fire at Aratapu, 10km south of Dargaville, yesterday.

Chief fire officer Michael Ross said the fire had started at the rear of the house, moved inside the wall and travelled up into the roof cavity.

He said the brigades with three appliances and two water tankers were able to stop the fire from doing too much damage to the home.

A woman was at home when the fire started but managed to get out.

A fire investigator had been to both scenes but had not been reached for comment by edition time.

Also on Monday, a fire on Waihapa Rd near Kaeo was the first test for a new team of firefighters from all over Northland tasked with tackling major blazes and allowing the initial volunteer responders to go back to their jobs and families.

Te Ope Tanga Kaihoe was deployed to fight the roughly 1ha blaze, which was started by an unattended incinerator about 11.45am, along with fire crews from Kaeo, Mangonui, Hihi, Taupo Bay and Cavalli.

One home was threatened initially.