Southland house badly damaged in fire

A house near Invercargill has been severely damaged by fire.

The blaze broke out in the house on Taramoa Rd near Argyle's Corner just before 3am today.

Fire crews initially thought people were inside the building, but a search found no one.

There were also fears the fire could spread to other buildings before it was contained.

It was unclear what caused the fire, and a specialist investigator had been called.