Warning after family loses yurt home in fire

Lake Hawea chief fire officer Brent Arthur says many people are living in self-isolation in the...
Lake Hawea chief fire officer Brent Arthur says many people are living in self-isolation in the area. Photo: ODT files
A local fire chief is calling on families to be more vigilant following an early-morning blaze which injured three people and destroyed a tent home in Hawea.

Lake Hawea chief fire officer Brent Arthur said emergency services were called to the blaze in a yurt (a portable round tent) in Nook Rd at 12.26am today.

A mother and her seven-year-old daughter had been asleep in the yurt when it ignited, possibly from an enclosed log burner, he said.

The mother suffered third degree burns to her legs, hands and parts of her body, her daughter received burns to her hands and legs and
her husband was also burned when he helped them to escape.

All  were taken to Dunstan Hospital for treatment. The  mother was meant to have been flown to Dunedin Hospital this morning, but the chopper could not land at the hospital due to inclement weather.

Mr Arthur said by the time fire crews from Lake Hawea and Luggate arrived at the scene the yurt and surrounding trees were well alight, but the occupants had gone and were awaiting treatment from St John ambulance staff.

On Wednesday the country went into lockdown for at least four weeks in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Mr Arthur said the family originally moved to New Zealand about 10 years ago, but had been living Hawea for only two to three months and were self-isolating in the yurt.

Lots of people from various parts of New Zealand and the world, as well as the families that own the farms, were living in self-isolation in Hawea, he said.

‘‘We are going to be spending a lot more time in these tents and homes than we ever have before and some of these places are not set up for long-term living 24 hours a day.

‘‘We need to be conscious of the extra loads on power points and plugs with kids at home wanting to use their devices, wood burners needing to be cleaned and an escape plan in case of a fire now the entire family is home.

"We need to be more vigilant and switched on to our surroundings and how to make them safer."

kerrie.waterworth@odt.co.nz

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