A fire in the central Auckland suburb of Freemans Bay broke out just before 11am today.
Neighbour Mike O'Donovan said he was out on his patio when he smelt the smoke.
"I looked across and there was smoke billowing across the trees."
He said another neighbour was already calling the fire department so he knocked on the door of the house that was ablaze to see if anyone was inside.
Nobody answered, however moments later a man emerged from the rear of the house and said he had been asleep.
"The flames were almost attacking the house next door," Mr O'Donovan said.