A young Auckland family who have been left with just the clothes they were wearing after a fire tore through their home, had been struck by lightning at a previous house.
And Muriwai fire chief Phelan Pirrie says it's lucky that neither Nat Te Hei or her children were home at the time as he doubts they would have got out alive.
The brigade, and five other appliances, were called to her Domain Cres home about 5.40pm.
By the time they got there the two-storey home was well involved in fire.
Pirrie said the fire appeared to have begun around the fireplace on the bottom storey.
"It's quite a small house and had an upper storey and the whole thing was totally involved."
He couldn't believe it when he saw she lived there as he recalled her previous home being struck by lightning a couple of years ago.
"It's just awful. I do know Nat and I didn't know that she was living there. She's been very unlucky. There was another incident where she was living in a house that was hit by lightning ... but it just burnt down the outside and they were lucky that they caught it.
"We got here and got the fire out and she was there and it was like, 'oh you're joking'."
Te Hei was not insured and she and her children, aged 5 and 11, have been left with just the clothes they were wearing, as well as a small amount of Lego left by the front door.
Struck by her desperate situation, Pirrie said he wanted to help so he set up a Givealittle page in the hope that she start to at least buy clothes and toys for her children.
He said he was thankful the fire didn't start after they'd gone to bed upstairs.
"If it had been three hours later, I just hate to think what would have happened. I mean that genuinely. We see alot of stuff but because of the way the house was designed if she had been upstairs with the kids and this had happened at night, I don't know what would have happened."
Firefighters were initially worried about occupants as there was a car still in the driveway and no word if anyone was inside.