A mother and her five children may have lost their lives in a fire this morning, if it wasn't for a working smoke alarm.

A fire ripped through the Mangere home on McKinstry Ave, as the family watched from the street - having been alerted to the blaze by a smoke alarm in the hallway.

"If she hadn't had the smoke alarm it may well have been a lot more serious than it was," said fire risk management officer Terry Jordan.

"It could have been life threatening. It spread quite quickly through the house.


"The smoke alarm was certainly a life saver in this situation."

Firefighters were called to the house about 9.15am.

Mr Jordan said the blaze had broken out in a bedroom of the 1970s house.

"From what I understand the lady was in one of the bedrooms feeding her baby and the smoke alarm went off in the hallway.

"She took the children outside, and then went back and opened the bedroom door and the room was full of flames - it was the bedroom next to where she was."

He said the people who lived in the room had left for work.

Mr Jordan said it was too early to determine the cause of the fire.

"We're considering a few options, but a definite cause is still unknown."

He said the fire had spread through most of the house and into the ceiling.