Mossburn house fire suspicious

A house fire in rural Southland on Friday night is being treated as suspicious.

Firefighters from the Mossburn and Lumsden stations were sent to the property in the Mossburn area just after 10.30pm and a room in the house was well alight when they got there, a Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) spokeswoman said.

"No-one was at home at the time," she said.

A police spokeswoman said the fire was in Wreys Bush-Mossburn Rd, and a guard was at the scene overnight.

A 36-year-old man was charged with burglary in relation to the incident, and was expected to appear in the Invercargill District Court today.

Further inquiries into the cause of the fire were under way.

Fire investigator Murray Milne-Maresca was at the scene on Saturday morning.

"The fire was witnessed by a passer-by on the main highway," Mr Milne-Maresca said.

The three-bedroom house was on a farm. It was severely damaged by the fire and now uninhabitable, he said.

"It is under investigation as a suspicious fire."

The house fire was one of two from Friday night Mr Milne-Maresca was looking into.

The other was in Gore and was not suspicious, he said.

Firefighters from Gore and Mataura were called to a property just after 6pm, a Fenz spokeswoman said.

The occupants of the house were able to get out and the house was "fully involved" when firefighters arrived, she said.

Mr Milne-Maresca said the fire started in a bedroom at the back of the house. He was still investigating the cause.

The occupants had noticed smoke and could see flames in the bedroom, he said.

"They had working smoke alarms and everyone got out safely."

This included their black Labrador, Albie.