A family who lost everything in a fire say they have seen firsthand the incredible professionalism of front-line emergency workers and the generosity of the Kiwi spirit.

On the second day of the nationwide Covid-19 level 4 alert, a fire engulfed a yurt in Hawea, injuring a Chilean family and destroying their belongings.

Javier Ugas managed to get his partner Connie Causa and their daughter Luna to safety shortly before the tent burst into flames.

Coronavirus Covid 19: Meet the Kiwi frontline heroes who can't isolate
Covid 19 coronavirus: The rise of Ashley Bloomfield as a social media hero
Covid 19 coronavirus: Grey Lynn residents applaud frontline workers


Causa suffered third-degree burns that needed skin grafting but she has recently been reunited with her family after being discharged from hospital.

"Everything is bit uncertain at the moment," Ugas said.

"We lost our home, so we need to find a new home. Everyone is in a lockdown so where do we go from here?

"Right now we are just taking it day by day, focused on healing."

They were trying not to worry too much about the next few months despite the fact he would not be able to work under the current lockdown restrictions, Ugas said.

One of the hardest things they had faced in the days that followed the fire was the separation of Causa from her 7-year-old daughter.

"At the same time we knew it was for the better. The doctors in Dunedin were really good and they did an amazing job," Ugas said.

Since Causa left hospital they had been updating her surgeons with photos of the healing process as burns could be dynamic and it was unclear if she would need further surgery, he said.


Ugas said friends from the Organic Mechanic had wanted to set up a Givealittle page to help support the family.

After they lost everything, knowing they had something had given them some peace of mind, he said.

He appreciated it was tough time for a lot of New Zealanders who faced economic uncertainty and stressed they were not trying to take advantage of the situation.

"If someone feels they are in a position that they can help and contribute to our family, it would be received gladly."

They had appreciated every single kind message of support and gift of cake or clothing they had received, he said.

"It's all different ways to show compassion, care, love and the beautiful sense of community.

"We have been in New Zealand for nearly 14 years and this has definitely shown us Kiwis are awesome and very generous. They unite together, especially in times of struggle.

"From Luna, Connie and myself, we will be always grateful for what they have done. We couldn't be more grateful."

Ugas wanted to extend a special thanks to his daughter's classmates, who had been sending letters and toys to cheer her up.

He also wanted to acknowledge the incredible professionalism and commitment of those working on the frontline to keep others safe.

"They have made a difference to our family. If it wasn't for them it would be a different story I guess. Hospitals, doctors, nurses, helicopter pilots, firefighters - all of them are just amazing."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website