Neighbours of an elderly woman who died in a Wellington house fire say there was nothing they could do to help her.
Six fire appliances attended the blaze on Woodhouse Avenue in the suburb of Karori about 11.30am on Monday after reports that someone was trapped inside.
Neighbours heard screams and attempted to put the fire out with garden hoses before the Fire Service arrived at the property where an elderly couple live.
Builder Trevor Macdonald said the house was burning so rapidly that it was too dangerous for anyone to enter the property as the flames were coming through the windows and out the roof.
Another neighbour, Vivienne Boyle, told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme she was terrified by the speed of the flames as they engulfed the house.
"It just took hold extremely fast. I know they did their absolute best, but it was terrifying the speed of it. It's the first time I've ever seen a fire like that."
Police say the severely damaged house is being stabilised and along with a fire scene investigator, they will investigate the cause of the fire on Tuesday.
The elderly woman's name has not yet been made public.