Police are investigating a suspicious fire at Ballarat East that tore through a house in the early hours of Monday.
CFA crews arrived at the Victoria Street block about 4.15am, finding more than 80 per cent of the building already on fire.
Ballarat City Fire Station senior officer David Mounier said firefighters broke through a door and fought their way through smoke to check if anybody was inside.
“We had a lot of difficult gaining access to the property due to the garden being overgrown and a high fuel load inside, with lots of furniture,” he said.
“It took four trucks about 15 minutes to contain the fire, we had to wait until it was out to do a full search of the property.”
Emergency workers eventually established nobody was home as police arrived to guard the scene of the fire, which has been deemed suspicious.
An acquaintance of the property’s owner said the inside of the home resembled Miss Havisham’s house in Charles Dickens’ famous novel Great Expectations.
“It was a house like that, it had a piano in it and everything,” he said.
“But it was in need of repair.”
A neighbour said he had not seen anybody inside the home for years.
“I’ve heard homeless people or kids sometimes go in,” he said.
A vintage Bedford truck was sitting in the garden, listed for sale.
It’s believed nobody had been living in the house recently.
CFA investigators have launched a probe into the cause of the blaze.