The blaze that gutted a Murupara property and took more than 15 firefighters to extinguish is being treated as suspicious and may be linked to gangs.
Emergency services were called to the Tawa St house just after 5.30pm yesterday. More than 15 firefighters battled the flames and Rotorua Fire Brigade senior station officer Colin Rolfe said the job took them three and a half to four hours.
The Murupara Volunteer Fire Brigade worked with the Rotorua Fire Brigade and Kaingaroa Volunteer Fire Brigade to put out the blaze.
Rotorua police crime prevention manager Brendon Keenan said the fire was being investigated by police because it was "definitely suspicious".
"Accelerants had been used, and we are looking at possible charges of arson and willful damage."
Keenan said the owners of the house lived in Rotorua and a tenant was about to move in.
"The property has been badly damaged, but thankfully no one was inside."
He said it was a "targeted burn" and could be gang-related.
Rolfe said it was initially reported a person was possibly inside the home but no one was in the property at the time of the fire.
"When we arrived the house was already damaged and the fire was fully involved. The only remedy I could see at this point would be pulling it down."
He said the fire was brought under control within an hour.
"From there we still had to put out the hot spots. The worst part of it is in the aftermath."