NATALAU disaster awareness committee member Sailosi Vodo said the speed and ferocity of the flames that destroyed a two-storey house in the village had caught everyone by surprise.
"We became aware of the fire when people started shouting at about 9.30pm on Tuesday night," he said.
"By the time people began running there with buckets and hose pipes trying to put out the flames, the sitting room on the ground floor and part of the top floor were already ablaze."
Mr Vodo said the family had left earlier that evening to attend a Christmas Eve service at the Anglican Church in Namaka when the incident happened.
"The family operated a shop downstairs and they were very popular in the village. It is a sad thing for them to lose everything at a time when everyone else is celebrating."
Flames continued to burn away at parts of the still smouldering remains of the home when The Fiji Times news team visited the site on Wednesday.
Police media liaison West Naina Ragigia said while it was fortunate that no one was hurt, it was imperative that people took heed of warnings and ensured their homes were safe and secure at all times.
The house was situated at Natalau Village in Nadi at the foot of the Sleeping Giants.