A restless toddler may have saved not just his Napier home but also the lives of him and his parents, after a suspected arson attack on a neighbouring house early on Thursday.

Ian Hodgson was sleeping in his two-year-old Louie’s room in an effort to stop him from wandering around the house in the early hours when he was woken by cracking noises.

“I peeled the curtain back slowly but couldn’t really see through the glass,” he told Hawke’s Bay Today.

The glass had blackened from smoke and heat from the blazing, vacant, villa next door — one wall of which is only a metre away from their home.

The cracking sound was glass beginning to break.

“Then I saw flickering light and realised it was a fire.”

He woke his son and wife and they quickly got out, grabbing the phone on the way and calling 111.

“The worst part was standing across the road watching our house catching fire.”

Detective Daryl Moore of Napier CIB said it appeared paper had been set alight and pushed through the window of the vacant house in Wellesley Street.

The house was badly burned but the Hodgsons’ house escaped major damage.

Senior fire officer Bryan Dunphy said the crews could see the glow and smoke as they left the station nearly 2km away.

“We put the main resources into saving the (Hodgsons’) neighbouring house,’ Dunphy said.

Flames had crossed the short gap between the houses and got into the ceiling and rear kitchen area of the Hodgsons’ house.

Although firefighters were able to stop it spreading further, there was extensive scorching and water damage to the back of the property.

Moore said police were interested in speaking with anyone who was in the area near Thackeray Street between 2am and 4am.

“We believe there were people who watched the fire as it burnt.”