You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Crews from the Glenavy Volunteer Fire Brigade and Waimate Volunteer Fire Brigade were called to the scene at Riverside Village off State Highway 1, about 23km north of Oamaru, about 4.20pm.
A tanker from the St Andrews Volunteer Fire Brigade also attended.
Glenavy brigade Deputy Chief Fire Officer Wayne Direen said the house was well ablaze when firefighters arrived.
"They just worked to contain it and stop it from spreading to neighbouring buildings.
"There is a possibility it's suspicious. Police have spoken to someone."
About a dozen firefighters, some in full breathing apparatus, fought the blaze, which was bought under control about 5.45pm.
Firefighters remained at the scene last night to dampen down hot spots.
Sergeant Dallas Roberts, of Timaru, said the cause of the blaze was not immediately known, but it would be investigated by the Timaru CIB.
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she rushed outside when she saw flashing lights from fire engines.
"I just saw the fire engine lights on when I went to have a look and there was this big pile of fire, a lot of flames, that looked to be coming out of the roof."
Another neighbour, who also did not want to be named, described the inferno as "terrifying".
"My neighbour across the road came and knocked on my door and said I think you better know that the house is on fire, so I went out the back door. It was incredible. The heat was absolutely incredible."
She said she did not considering fleeing her house, but was helped by a man who feared the woman's house might be ignited.
"A very nice man who was visiting someone else came and hosed my house down ... it was too hot, so he stayed there for half-an-hour hosing my roof and my walls. It was just terrifying."