An elderly Orewa couple are lucky to be alive after an electrical fire broke out among a nest of multi-plugs powering up to 15 appliances in their bedroom.

Crews from the Silverdale Volunteer Fire Brigade rushed to the West Hoe Rd home about 3am on Friday.

The fire, which was confined to an upstairs bedroom, was just minutes away from taking over the home, a fire spokesman said.

"It was very lucky that the elderly occupant woke up and could smell smoke and raise the alarm. We're very lucky it wasn't a fatality," fire risk management officer Michael Upton said.


"The smoke builds up very quickly and if you're asleep, you have a lot of difficulty waking up to these things - you don't smell smoke when you're asleep, so you would be overcome by the smoke very quickly and you wouldn't realise that the fire was occurring."

There were no working smoke alarms in the house -- Mr Upton said the couple had a box of smoke alarms which were yet to be installed.

"That's why we encourage smoke alarms in every home -- it's a cheap way to save lives."

Fire risk management officer Michael Upton said there were about five multiboards in the bedroom which were plugged into each other, powered from a single wall socket.

He said the one wall socket would have been powering between 12 and 15 appliances.

"It was a bit of a nightmare."

He said it was important not to overload multiboards with double adaptors, and only one appliance should be used per-multiboard or wall socket.

The elderly couple were unharmed by the fire, he said.

"They were both pretty upset and pretty shaken by the event, they were lucky to walk away from it unharmed. They were just so lucky that the husband discovered the fire when he did."

The fire crew put up the smoke alarms for the couple while they were at the scene.

This is not the first house fire in the area this year.

On January 4, an elderly woman was airlifted to Middlemore Hospital in a critical condition after a house fire in Orewa. She later died.

According to the fire service, there were smoke alarms in the home but they were not working.

And on January 7, a Marton man died in his home after a blaze.

"In 80 per cent of the house fires we attend, smoke alarms are either not installed or not working," the Waitemata Fire Service wrote on Facebook.

"This tragic event serves as a timely reminder for people to check on their elderly friends, neighbours and family to make sure they have working smoke alarms.

"The Fire Service recommends installing long-life photoelectric smoke alarms in every bedroom, living area and hallway -- on every level in the house."

The fire service provides free home fire safety visits and will install pre-purchased smoke alarms. To make an appointment, call 0800 NZ Fire (0800 693 473).