A mysterious fire that destroyed a couple's dream home was initially mistaken by neighbours for a harmless scrub blaze.
Devastated homeowner Brian Taylor was this morning still coming to terms with the destruction of his Plummer Rd home of six years after it caught fire shortly after midday yesterday.
Mr Taylor said the home was the oldest in Plummer Rd and he and his wife had recently renovated it.
"She's a nightmare. It was my wife's pride and joy," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.
The couple were staying in a hotel while insurers assessed the home, in which everything was destroyed.
"We're just trying to work out whether we bowl it over," he said.
Tauranga senior fire risk management officer Ken McKeagg said water tankers had to be called in from Waihi and Greerton because of a lack of water supply in the rural road.
"That's why the damage was so great, not only because it was so far out of town but because the water supply there was spasmodic."
The cause of the fire was unknown but was thought to have broken out near the home's switchboard area, he said.
A Ministry of Energy electrical inspector would be investigating.
Neighbours yesterday told the Bay of Plenty Times they were shocked that they initially mistook it for a typical scrub fire.
Neighbour Liam Clarke said he went outside for a cigarette when he heard the Omokoroa volunteer fire brigade siren sounding about 1.40pm.
"Then I saw the fire truck go past so I put my head around the fence and saw all this smoke," he said.
Mr Clarke called the home's owner to tell him his house was on fire.
Watching on from his neighbour's driveway shortly after, he explained the couple had "done up" the house a couple of years ago.
"When we first moved here it was quite a small house. They extended it quite a bit. They made it real nice."
Other neighbours in the area watched on shocked.
"I saw the smoke but just presumed it was some scrub burning. That's what we do at this time of year," said a neighbour, who only wanted to be known as Mary.
"When I heard the siren I thought 'oh my God, my neighbour's house is on fire'."
Another neighbour said she also saw the smoke but figured it was harmless scrub fire.
Omokoroa volunteer fire brigade responded to other neighbours' calls and fire chief Ian Blunt said firefighters could see the smoke kilometres away.
Smoke could also be seen from as far as Cambridge Rd.
Mr Blunt said when they arrived they could see the fire "burning quite ferociously".
"There were flames coming out and up, about a metre to two metres big.
"We managed to hold the fire because it was spreading down the hall. It was a good 10 minutes before we got more water."