The Auckland man who lost his wife, son and mother-in-law in a house fire three days before Christmas remains in a medically-induced coma at Middlemore Hospital.

Kaileshan Thanabalasingham, 47, suffered burns to 40 per cent of his body in the pre-dawn fire on December 22 at a house on Plantation Avenue in Flat Bush.

Despite having opened his eyes a few times, lawyer and close friend Deborah Manning said Thanabalasingham remained "heavily sedated".

While she didn't want to divulge further details of his condition, she believed the prominent refugee advocate was in a "critical, but stable" condition in the intensive care unit.


Thanabalasingham's father-in-law and daughter, 11, were the only other members of their family to escape the fire alive, while his son, 5, wife, 39, and his 66-year-old mother-in-law all perished.

The young girl reportedly escaped to tell firefighters people were still inside the two-storey house, which was well ablaze, with windows exploding and smoke billowing.

Fire crews worked on putting it out and enabling a rescue crew to get inside, but were unable to save everyone.

Manning said the funerals of the three who died were still being arranged but it was likely these would take place next week.

Extended family members had flown in, mostly from Canada, and were being housed by members of the community.

The injured father-in-law and his wife, who died in the blaze, were Canadian citizens who had come to New Zealand for a holiday three weeks ago.

Manning said the family was extremely grateful for the "immense support" they'd received.

"This is obviously a traumatic experience for the family and the focus is on being with him at the hospital ... it's an extremely difficult time.


"It's not an easy time for anyone who knows Kailesh and his family."

Donations to a Givealittle page, set up by the refugee community, have so far amassed almost $75,000.

It will be used to help with funeral, medical and practical costs for the family.

Thanabalasingham came to New Zealand as a refugee more than 10 years ago and has been described by Manning as someone with "great empathy for others".

"He didn't come to New Zealand to look after himself. He made sure he looked after as many people as he could."

She expressed her thanks to everyone who'd now got behind him in his time of need, on behalf of the family.

"Incredible thanks, from the family for the support; it means a tremendous amount for them in what's a very difficult time ... it'll be a very long road to recovery."

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