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'It's all gone' - Lake Ōhau man loses business and home in blaze

Lake Ōhau resident Hugh Spiers lost his Airbnb business and home in the wildfire that’s already destroyed between 40 and 50 structures.

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Between 40 and 50 structures in the Mackenzie District town have been destroyed. Source: 1 NEWS

“It’s so surreal, it’s all gone so it’s hard to fathom,” he said.

With guests staying in his accommodation, Spiers quickly woke them to escape the flames.

“We woke up and we thought we were in F****** hell,” he said.

Between "40 and 50 structures" have been destroyed in the blaze. Source: 1 NEWS

"The wind was so strong and the flames and the smoke and the sparks and the embers, it was just like what you see in the bush fires in Australia,” he said.

Waitaki District Mayor Gary Kircher said a dog’s quick reaction is the reason the alarm was sounded.

"I spoke to a gentlemen yesterday who got up to his dog, opened the door to a wall of orange coming towards him, he shot down and turned on the village siren which is what it's for and that alerted a lot of people and they all went door to door,” said Mayor Kircher.

Fire and Emergency’s Mike Grant said the community’s preparedness saved lives.

The flames forced hundreds of people to flee in the early hours of yesterday morning. Source: 1 NEWS

“People went to the assembly areas, the evacuation points that were part of the plan and consequently everybody was evacuated and there were no lives lost," he said.

Despite his loss, Hugh Spiers said the global support he’s received has been overwhelming.

“We’ve had messages from Holland, Germany, France and an island called Reunion in the middle of the Indian Ocean, there was a message just before. Just the love, Ōhau is a very special place and we've left a little bit of that in everybody's hearts that's stayed with us," he said.

Spiers said the focus is now on rebuilding.

"We need to as a community of Ōhau surround ourselves with love and support and embrace it and go forward, that's all you can do," he said.