The speed of a fire which destroyed a two storey house in Paekakariki was "unbelieveable", Kapiti Coast District Council deputy mayor Janet Holborow said.
Ten fire crews attended the house fire which started on the corner of Wellington Rd and Beach Rd at about 5am this morning.
Paekakariki Volunteer Fire Brigade station officer Aaron Richardson said occupants in the house had been evacuated with the assistance of neighbours when the first crews arrived.
The fire was "fully involved" when firefighters arrived.
"We got to work protecting mainly the exposures, which were a couple of neighbouring properties right next door.
"There was a very strong easterly wind which was causing significant risk for the other properties around us.
"Once we had managed that, we got to work at containing and then extinguishing the fire."
Ms Holborow, who lives near the fire ravaged house, said, "It's just utterly devastating.
"It took hold so fast and fiercely.
"It was unbelievable."
She said three adults, a child and a dog had been in the house.
Witness Marcel Hamann was also shocked at the speed of the fire.
"It was so quick.
"They were so lucky to get out."
Another local resident, who didn't want to be named, said "the flames were huge and smoke was coming over our way".
Fire investigators were trying to determine the cause of the fire.