Auckland family's devastating start to new year after house burns to the ground

One Auckland family has had a devastating start to the new year, while their neighbours have had a big wake-up call.

Their house in Ōtara burned to the ground and Fire and Emergency is reminding of the importance of smoke alarms.

It was a lucky escape for residents of an Ōtara street on Sunday night, as fire gutted one home, and threatened others.

"I heard a popping sound, it sounded like fireworks at first. I opened the door and there was a wall of fire and the garage next door was on fire," said neighbour Michael Bennison.

Six fire trucks were sent due to the risk of the blaze escalating.

"We didn't know if the flames were going to come into our house. The flames were about four metres higher than the roof," Bennison said. "It was pretty scary."

A terrifying time for all, none more so than the family that live there.

"All the occupants next door managed to get out. They were pretty shocked and distressed," Bennison said.

On Monday morning neighbours praised Fire and Emergency for its fast action, saying it could've been a lot worse.

"First thing they did was to hose our house down first - the fire had jumped over from next door to our house," neighbour Ameto Lauofo said.

And it's a timely reminder in a moment of minutes, houses can go up in flames - not just impacting this dwelling, but also the neighbouring homes.

"The 111 operator said we need to get out of our house too, my two-year-old mokopuna said, 'Papa I am scared because of the heat from next door'," Lauofo said.

Fire and Emergency said last night's fire is an example of why it's important to have working smoke alarms and an escape plan. Something these neighbours said they'll implement.