The family of an Essa Township home made it out safely last night, but flames destroyed the big house where they'd lived for less than year.

Investigators are still on scene this evening, Aug. 20, sifting through the debris and looking for what caused the fire that destroyed this home.

Most of the focus is on the right side of the home, where the garage used to be. Very little of it is left.

“Right now she's trying to identify what all the fuels were and what types of combustibles were stored in the garage,” says Jeff Minten, and investigation supervisor with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office.

So far, investigators with the OFM know the fire started in the garage, but are still trying to decide what sparked it.

“It spread very quickly. You could hear things exploding in the garage,” says neighbour Krista White.

The fire started during the dinner hour last night, and four people were inside the house. They all managed to get out in time.

“They came into our yard here because there wasn't really anywhere else to gos,” says White, who lives across the street. “So they were pretty distraught and it was pretty traumatic for them.”

A couple and their two teenagers lived in the house. Now they're staying at a hotel. They reportedly have insurance.

Essa Fire Chief Paul Macdonald says the house fire was stubborn.

It took firefighters about five hours before they could put it out. But that wasn't the only challenge.

The road was packed with cars belonging to people who had pulled over to take in what was happening. Macdonald says those vehicles were blocking the way for tankers to get to the scene.

“When you pack vehicles all the way up the road, we can't get in and do our jobs properly,” Macdonald says.

The fire attracted a lot of attention and smoke was visible for kilometres. More than 20 loads of water had to be trucked in.

Residents still feel upset about what happened to their neighbours.

“It's going to take some time to process, and it was definitely an intense and scary night. They're in our thoughts,” says neighbour Stephanie van Leeuwen.

The people who own the home won't be able to get into what's left their house until the Ontario Fire Marshal's office releases the scene.

Parts of the home look okay, but there's smoke and fire damage to everything inside.