Fire has extensively damaged a home in Hillcrest, Rotorua.
Emergency services were called to the blaze on Puriri St about 5.40pm last night.
At 6pm there were three appliances at the scene and an ambulance, and the street was blocked off entirely around the home.
One neighbour told the Rotorua Daily Post she went out for a cigarette about 5.45pm, shortly after lighting her own living room fire to heat her home.
"I heard smashing windows down the street and at first I thought it was a fight. Then I realised it was a house fire."
She said all of the occupants were out of the house by this point and emergency services were on their way.
"A few other neighbours were out on the street. There were long flames out the windows, we could see it spreading to the far side of the house."
She said there had never been a house fire on her street during the three years she had lived there.
"I do not know the people who live there but they have been there for some time too. I do not know if it was a Housing New Zealand house or if it was rented privately."
She was "just glad they got out safely".
Another neighbour said the fire was quite a shock.
"I do not want to put my dinner on now," she told the Rotorua Daily Post.
"My friend just rang to check I was okay."
A Professionals Property Management car arrived at 6.20pm, and a woman from the car was let inside the cordon by emergency services.