Smoke alarms saved the lives of a Waikato family after a fire ravaged their rural home yesterday.

The family's landlord, Tainui Group Holdings, has organised a new house as well as a few weeks' worth of groceries.

Waikato specialist fire investigator Kevin Holmes says the Old Taupiri Rd house, at Hopuhopu, north of Ngaruawahia, is now unliveable after being gutted in the 2pm blaze.

The fire began after one of the occupants left a pot of hot oil on the stove.


"He's obviously forgotten about it and it's heated up and 'boof' off it goes."

The occupant was alerted to the fire by the smoke alarm.

"So he went back down and the fire was already in the curtains and going up into the ceiling so all they could do was get the children out."

Holmes says all the physical evidence from the scene also pointed to the fire beginning on the stove.

He says the fire is a timely reminder for people to never leave cooking unattended.

"Never leave anything unattended while you're cooking especially if you're using oil. It's imperative that somebody stays and keeps an eye on whatever is being cooked."

However, he praised the parents for getting everybody out safely.

Holmes says unattended cooking is a leading cause of house fires in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Tainui Group Holdings has confirmed that they have found another house for the family and they will move into it "as soon as possible", a spokesman says.

"We're making that available so they've got somewhere to live."

The spokesman says they're also getting food together, on behalf of Waikato-Tainui, as they get themselves back on their feet.

"We're also organising a koha of a couple of weeks of groceries for the family too."