A woman who grew up in a Polson St home wept as she watched smoke billow high into the morning sky this morning.

Emergency services were called at just after 8am as the upstairs and downstairs of the two-story home were well involved in fire.

Whanganui fire service senior station officer Craig Gardiner said that a mother and two children escaped the premises.

"We had people in the house, but they've managed to escape prior to our arrival which is good," he said.

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"They found the fire, found it was too big, realised they couldn't tackle it and they've gone to the neighbours and made the call to us."

Gardiner said he had talked to the children and all three occupants seemed to be fine.

The fire, which started in a bedroom, is under investigation but is not suspicious, Gardiner said.

"The house had working smoke alarms so the occupants were alerted and were able to escape but unfortunately the fire took hold pretty quick and the house is extensively damaged," he said.

Three occupants escaped a house that was well involved in fire on Polson Street in Whanganui. Photo / Stuart Munro
Three occupants escaped a house that was well involved in fire on Polson Street in Whanganui. Photo / Stuart Munro

Jeanette Bailey was at the scene where all she could do was watch as smoke billowed from her family home.

Her parents, Bob and Barbara Hills, built the house in the late 1950s and lived there until Bob passed away about 15 years ago and Barbara sold it.

She said that it was a really cool place to grow up.

"It's a quarter acre section with lots of space, that whole area at the back was full of lupin and sand and trees.

"All of the kids in these houses, which were all built around the same time, we would go out there and just play all day."

She was alerted to the situation by her niece Karli Stevens, who also spent time growing up in the house.

"I could see the smoke from my house on Mosston St and after that all I could see were the tears that were streaming out of my eyes," Stevens said.

"All I can think about is the dinosaur wallpaper, it covers a whole wall and it's got four generations of names on it.

"We've got memories, but the people that live there have lost their stuff and that's horrible. We can't lose our memories."