Threats were made against a woman and two young children shortly before their home was destroyed by fire, the Advocate understands.
Police and Fire and Emergency are investigating the blaze that razed a Housing New Zealand home on Omapere Rd, Kaikohe, early on Monday morning.
Fire safety officer Craig Bain confirmed the fire, which started on the ground floor at the front of the house, was suspicious.
No one was home when the fire started around 2.45am.
Part of the house was still standing yesterday but was in danger of collapsing.
Bain was waiting for a Far North District Council building inspector to declare it dangerous so it could be demolished.
The house was just metres away from three other homes, two of which sustained minor damage.
Bain commended the Kaikohe volunteer firefighters who saved neighbouring homes by directing water on to them as soon as they arrived.
Kerikeri and Ōkaihau brigades also responded with volunteers relieved by a paid crew from Whangārei at 6am.
The two-storey A-frame house was home to a woman and two grandchildren, aged around 3 and 8.
The Advocate understands they left earlier that night after a man made a threat to burn the house down.
Detective Inspector Rhys Johnston, of Northland CIB, said police were ”following strong lines of inquiry”.
Officers had been going door to door talking to neighbours and were examining CCTV footage.
He could not comment further while the investigation was continuing.
A neighbour, who did not want to be identified, said three of his windows had cracked from the heat and guttering had melted. His car had also been damaged.
He was woken up by a nephew from nearby Williams Rd banging on his bedroom window.
Another family member, who was ”a bit of a night owl”, had seen the flames and raised the alarm.
”I walked outside and saw the house was completely ablaze. I called 111 but they said the brigade was already on their way. I was worried about the people in the house until I saw her car was gone.”
The flames were blowing towards his home, he said.
”The wind was crazy, it just fuelled the fire.”
”It’s a bloody sad situation. I’m just glad the kids weren’t there and no one was hurt.”
The man said his neighbour was badly shaken and staying with friends until Housing NZ arranged alternative accommodation.
It is at least the seventh house destroyed by fire in the Far North so far this year.
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