A Middlemarch man, who's wife of 30 years died of cancer six months ago, has lost his house and all his possessions in a devastating fire.

Malcolm Taylor had been working with a blowtorch in a nearby shed on Tuesday, when he turned the torch off and briefly headed into his house. When he returned minutes later, the shed was on fire.

He tried to put the fire out with a garden hose, but could not get enough pressure to get up to the ceiling.

''I'm pretty shaken. I only lost my wife six months ago to cancer,'' Taylor said. ''I haven't got much more than the clothes that I'm standing in.''

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Malcolm Taylor attempted to fight the blaze with a garden hose, but there wasn't enough pressure to extinguish the fire. Photo / Givealittle
Malcolm Taylor attempted to fight the blaze with a garden hose, but there wasn't enough pressure to extinguish the fire. Photo / Givealittle

One of the few items to survive the blaze was a vase Taylor gave to his wife as a first anniversary present three decades ago.

Taylor has house insurance, but not contents insurance. He was also supposed to travel to Australia today to visit his children and grandchildren, but those plans have had to be scrapped.

Middlemarch Volunteer Fire Brigade Chief Fire Officer John Foote said the fire was ''devastating''.

''We made the best attempt we could with what we had,'' he said.

A family member has set up a Givealittle page for Taylor, which has raised just under $600 by this morning.

Taylor said the Middlemarch branch of Rural Women NZ had also raised money to help him out.