CFA was called to the Rodney Street house around 1.50am to find the roof well alight.
The fire was under control by 2.13am but the two-storey dwelling received significant damage and is unliveable.
CFA’s Loddon Mallee Regional Commander Michael Wassing said people need to keep an eye on their chimneys, especially if they’re old.
“With the amount of heat going through chimneys, the bricks can move over time and the mortar can crack. This dangerous combination can easily cause a fire which could be deadly,” he said.
“These students are lucky to be alive. I would hate to consider the outcome had they not had a working smoke alarm.”
The students were renting the house and have been relocated to another property with the assistance of the local council.
Three CFA trucks from Bendigo and around 15 firefighters attended the scene.
All occupants of the house escaped safely with no injuries.