Evacuated Hawke's Bay residents were glad to return to their homes yesterday.

The Waimarama Rd fire was the largest of Monday's blazes - razing one house to the ground and leaving a family "with nothing".

Yesterday fire crews dampened down hotspots.

Scorched wood, broken glass, and charred roofing were all that remained of the home, with few recognisable items - a wire mattress, metal shelves, the skeleton of a quad bike.


The home's owner, Guy Gemmill, declined to comment.

A close friend said the family were "absolutely devastated" by the loss of their home, which Mr Gemmill had built.

"They're just completely devastated. They had a beautiful home and it's completely gone, and all they've got is the clothes they're standing in," she said.

She said the family had been living there for several years. They were able to rescue their pets from the fire - including two horses, and two dogs - but were still looking for their cat.

"They're quite a close-knit little family so they're just coping as best they can," she said. "They've lost the home that they built ... and they've just got nothing now."

Surrounded by scorched scrub, most properties on Lopez Lane appear to have escaped the fire by metres - the fire destroyed one property's deck, fence, and a corner of the home, with the rest unscathed.

Residents were pleased to be returning home yesterday- including 37 Craggy Range Rd residents evacuated on Monday.

Among them was the McEwan family, who thought they did not have a home to return to.

Monday's fire ripped through the hillsides surrounding their Waimarama Rd property, with singed trees and scorched grass along their fence line showing how close the flames came.

"It's a miracle. I can't believe that the house didn't burn down," Ali McEwan said.

"[Fire crews] saved our house for us. It just feels like a miracle that we've still got somewhere to live."

Ms McEwan had spent Monday afternoon at the Matangi Rd cordon, believing her house was gone.

"I came up [to the house] and trees by the driveway were on fire, and the wind came this way and it started coming towards us and so I ran.

"I went back to Matangi Rd and I just watched this orange wall of flames."

Yesterday she and her three sons were relieved to return to find their home standing, and their pets safe. Her son Hamish, 13, said he was grateful their home had been saved, but felt for those who lost "a bit more than their vegetable garden".

Craggy Range Rd resident Judy Matthews said they had been keeping an eye on the situation and had already got their vehicle packed and ready just in case.

"The dog was first who was on the back of the truck then we got the family photos and then us and headed down the road."

Staying with relatives, they were allowed back to their house yesterday morning to feed the cats, she said, and at that stage she was relieved to be told by a fireman that he believed they were winning the battle against the fire.

She praised the firefighters' efforts, some of whom she saw lying on the grass verges totally exhausted.

"They are wonderful people keeping the fire from our house," she said.

Another resident, Matt Stevenson, said his family had also bunked down with relatives overnight on Monday, but there had been plenty of offers of accommodation from lots of people.

"It was great to see the how the community gets together," he said.

After being told to leave the property he and a neighbour moved some cattle into a safe place away from the forestry block, and later co-ordinated with other neighbours for the school pick-up.

Yesterday morning they were allowed to open another gate for cattle as the wind was still strong, and they set the irrigation going to protect the house just in case.