Three people are confirmed dead and more may be missing after a fire engulfed a house in central Hamilton early this morning.
The fire started at the property in Collingwood Street just after 5am today.
It was under control earlier today, but the Fire Service said it was aggressive and so extensive that the old wooden villa was still smouldering.
Waikato Fire Commander Roy Breeze said specialist personnel were used at the scene.
"Guys that are trained in urban search and rescue, and they're actually shoring the floor areas and the staircase so that we can safely go in and find out if there's anyone else in house apart from the three we know of and make it safe so that we can both do our investigations."
Mr Breeze said one officer was treated in hospital for heat exhaustion.
Earlier today .police spokesperson Andrew McAlley, said emergency services had difficulty getting inside the house.
"The scene right now is very, very volatile and it is not stable. A key priority for police and fire at this point in time is ascertaining just how many people were in the dwelling at the time," he said.
"We know that it was a six-bedroom home but we know that there were more people in the dwelling than actually lived there."
The six-bedroom villa was used for student accommodation and seven people lived there police said, but it was still unknown how many people were inside the house at the time of the fire.
Four were known to have escaped safely by breaking and climbing out of windows and they were being interviewed and assisted by victim support.
One woman, who did not want to be named, had friends living in the house and was at a party there last night.
"There was a new flatmate moving in so everyone came around for a few drinks and stuff. Just casual fun, nothing horrendous - bit of music and ping pong and things like that."
She described the condition of the house as not great.
"Slightly old. It used to be a business and the floors were not completely structurally sound. There were bumps and potholes in various places and it was a bit unsteady but otherwise it was all right.
"For what it was used for, it was good."
Police were asking for anyone who was at a party there last night to come forward so they could confirm who was in the house.
They said the fire would be treated as suspicious at this stage.