A South Canterbury house has been gutted by fire after a car crashed into a power pole, bringing lines down that sparked a blaze.
The chain of events began about 6.30am on Sunday when the vehicle smashed into a pole on State Highway 1 at Winchester.
The crash caused the lines to come down, setting off a small scrub fire which quickly spread to a nearby house. Police say the fire was started by a power surge.
The house which had just been bought by a newly-married couple, was severely damaged in the fire, but the family who lived there escaped uninjured.
Erin McBride runs the local Pinewood Motels and was at the scene soon after the crash. "The car that hit the power pole is a total write off, a helluva mess. I don't know how they survived."
Inspector John Doherty said the car occupants and the family were lucky to come away unharmed from the freak accident.
About 1200 properties in the township and in Geraldine, Temuka and Orari were without electricity for several hours after the crash.
Lines workers were checking the power connections to about 50 South Canterbury houses still without power on Sunday afternoon.
Alpine Energy says those houses will be individually checked and have power restored one-by-one.
Some may not have power until late on Sunday or Monday morning.
Fire Service spokesperson Andrew Norris said foggy conditions may have caused the car to come off the road. Police diverted traffic off Stateway Highway 1 in the area.