Clothing hanging too close to an open fire is the likely cause of a house fire near Portobello on Monday night.

Portobello Volunteer Fire Brigade Chief Fire Officer Greg Dickson said the occupant of the house was not there at the time but he believed clothing caught fire and "totalled'' the house.

"It [the house] will definitely come down,'' Mr Dickson said. "It's 80% destroyed.''

It was unclear whether the house had fitted smoke detectors, he said.


"If [you] are drying clothing, don't hang them over heaters or don't hang them within a metre and a-half of the fire,'' Mr Dickson said.

When the Otago Daily Times visited yesterday, a man, thought to be the owner, did not want to comment.

The house in Harington Point Rd went up in flames about 10.30pm.

Three fire crews from Portobello, St Kilda and Dunedin attended and the last crew headed home about 4am.

Breathing apparatus and a thermal imaging camera were required and it took firefighters about two hours to extinguish the blaze, he said.