Police and Fire and Emergency NZ are investigating the fire that destroyed a house in Tangonge Cres, Kaitaia, on Friday afternoon.
Detective Richard Garton said a Fire and Emergency investigator had not determined the cause of the blaze, but it was being treated as suspicious. Police would progress their investigation once FENZ had completed its inquiry.
Two tenants and a neighbour had been at the address when the fire began, he said. All had escaped unharmed, while another neighbour had rescued the resident dogs.
Kaitaia Fire Brigade spokesman Colin Kitchen said he was at the fire station when the alarm was raised at 3.49pm. He had been able to see the smoke from there, as had chief fire officer Craig Rogers from Ahipara, where he was working, and another brigade member had seen it from Waipapakauri.
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"It was going like hell, from end to end, when we got there," Kitchen said.
The first appliance had arrived within five minutes of the alarm being raised, and might have been fractionally quicker but for the traffic that converged on Worth St and Dominion Rd as people strove to get a look at what was happening, but there had been no chance of saving the house.
The heat had been intense, he added, only tall hedges and good work by firefighters saving the neighbouring houses from damage.
The Kaitaia Fire Brigade had deployed its three appliances and its water tanker, while Ahipara also responded.