A Porirua family was sitting down to watch Shortland Street, but then they saw smoke pouring out of their neighbour’s garage.
“We looked out the window and there was just smoke everywhere,” the neighbour, who asked not to be named, said.
He has been praised for his quick actions in raising the alarm, which enabled an elderly man in the house to escape.
An intense house fire had started just after 7pm. It gutted the single-storey Ascot Park home, north of Wellington.
“We just ran next door and simply to make sure that nobody was in there,” the neighbour said.
“Nothing heroic or anything like that, we just banged on the door just to let them know because at that stage we didn’t know if they were aware.”
There was one elderly man in the front room of the house and after being alerted, he managed to get out before the fire spread.
“It just happens so quickly,” the neighbour said of the fire.
“What I’ve been told since then is if we hadn’t notified him or got to him when we did he may well have been trapped inside.”
Within minutes of the fire starting, several neighbours had come out to make sure everyone was alright, the neighbour said.
Fire crews were also quickly on the scene, the neighbour added.
In a facebook post the Porirua Fire Brigade praised the efforts of ‘a few amazing neighbours’ for raising the alarm on Wednesday night.
They also reiterated the importance of working smoke alarms to alert home owners to fire danger.
“We tell you over and over that smoke alarms save lives, well tonight a few amazing neighbours did the job of a smoke alarm and alerted the occupant of this house to the fact that his house was on fire,” the post said.
The single-storey house on Almora View was totally engulfed in flames by the time fire crews arrived.
The blaze was so intense that two cars next door also caught fire and thick black smoke blanketed the area.
A fire service spokesman said multiple calls were received about the fire.
One member of the public was treated for smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire is still unknown and is being investigated, a fire services spokeswoman said.