The occupants of a home which has been "totally devastated" by fire managed to get out safely thanks to smoke alarms.

Crews from Dargaville, Te Kopuru, and Paparoa volunteer fire brigades were called to a house fire on Maropiu Settlement Rd, Mamaranui - near Dargaville - about 11.20pm on Saturday.

When they arrived the three-bedroom house was "fully involved" in flames but the two adults and two children, who were in bed at the time, managed to get out safely thanks to smoke alarms.

"The house is totally devastated," said Whangarei and Kaipara fire investigator Craig Bain.

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"I think the good thing is the value of smoke alarms. They woke them up, got them out, the kids were sent across a couple of paddocks to the neighbours' place to raise the alarm."

Michael Ross, deputy chief fire officer of Dargaville volunteer brigade, said it took crews an hour to get the flames under control and about four hours to ensure the scene was completely safe.

"Smoke alarms save lives - no doubt about it. The house is still standing but only just. It's a total loss."

Mr Bain was at the house investigating yesterday.

He said the fire started in the kitchen but he was not sure what had caused the blaze and was waiting to speak to the occupants.

"They've basically lost everything so they're going to have to start all over again," Mr Bain said.

The fire comes only three weeks after a family of five were left with only the clothes on their backs after their rental property on Pukehuia Rd, east of Dargaville, was destroyed by a fire.