A body has been found in the remains of a Nelson home which burned down overnight.

Formal identification hasn't begun yet, but police warn that the severity of the fire could mean identification takes several days.

Family have been informed of the discovery.

Police earlier said an elderly couple lived at the property. A man managed to get out and was with family but another person was still missing.

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Detectives and firefighters are investigating the fire, which ripped through the single-storey home on Main Rd in the suburb of Stoke, behind the Elim Christian Centre, early this morning.

Police were still at the house, between Lemari Ave and Evergreen Way.

Fire Service southern communications shift manager Brent Dunn said two people lived in the home. Neither was outside the property when crews arrived, and there were initially fears for the safety of both people.

About 100 children have been told to stay away from a church preschool and after-school centre after the blaze.

Nelson Elim Christian Centre Pastor Richard Batchelar said the church had been advised by emergency services to close its preschool and after-school care programme for the day because of toxic fumes from the fire.

The unexpected closure would affect around 100 children.

Batchelar said he often chatted with the couple who lived in the property.

Leroy Bull, who lives about 50m from the blaze, was woken by the sound of fire engines.

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He said the neighbourhood was filled with the smell of smoke as it billowed from the burning home.

"As soon as I got outside you could see the smog and smoke. You could tell there was a fire."

He did not know the two people who lived at the property.

Dunn said the alarm was raised just after 4am and six crews from Stoke, Nelson and Richmond fought the blaze.

Bull could see smoke coming from the building three hours after the blaze erupted, though by 7am it was well under control.