The fire service says Dunedin students caught in a house fire last night are lucky to have escaped after it was discovered that fire alarms installed in the flat had been taken down.
Four people were hospitalised following an early morning house fire in the flat where band Six60 was formed.
The fire service says new smoke alarms had been installed at the property by the landlord in January, but two of them had been removed and were found in cupboards.
It's not known who was responsible for taking them down, but area commander Laurence Voight says it was "an act of stupidity".
"This is a lesson to anyone else who's made a short-sighted decisions to take theirs down. Working smoke alarms would have given them more warning and more time to escape."
Four fire crews were called to the house at 660 Castle St just before 7am to find the building "well ablaze", a fire service spokesperson said.
Three people were taken to Dunedin Hospital, one in a serious condition with burns and the others suffering smoke inhalation and cuts and bruises, the ambulance service said.
The fourth, a firefighter, injured his knee during the blaze.
Nineteen people have been killed in avoidable house fires since July 2015.
The fire service suggests people install photo-electric smoke alarms with a built-in long-life battery. The service says these are useful for rental properties because the batteries cannot be removed or replaced.