Ten people attending a Pacific Island prayer meeting escaped injury when a fire gutted a Timaru house this morning.

Four fire engines from Timaru, Temuka and Washdyke attended the blaze about 10.30am. The home's occupants were alerted by a neighbour, who spotted the fire in a back bedroom.

Washdyke fire station officer Trevor Karton could not confirm the cause of the fire, as firefighters were unable to enter the house. The roof collapsed in the blaze, creating the risk of heavy falling tiles.

"I can say that the fire was not suspicious," he said.


With temperatures reaching -4 degrees in Timaru this morning, he cautioned residents to be especially careful to keep furnishings and items of clothing away from heaters, and obey the "metre-heater" rule.