Australian bushfire survivor offers stark warning to those threatened by wildfires

A man who almost lost his life in a catastrophic bushfire in South Australia has a stark warning for those under threat from wildfires - don't be complacent and get out quickly.

Terry Lee was left severely burned in the deadly 2015 Pinery bushfire. Now, he's sharing his story.

"The smoke was coming over the town. It was very windy. It was really like hell on earth," he says.

Lee remembers the day that changed his life, as he tried to flee the raging fire.

"Winds are changing all the time, you can't see anything... we basically drove into the fire," he recalls.

The Pinery bushfire destroyed 91 homes, more than 85,000 hectares of land and killed two people. Terry was almost one of them.

He and his wife Moira had set off in different vehicles and became separated in the panic.  When he got out of his car to see what was going on, he was overcome.

"I just fell to the ground and I could basically feel the fire sweeping over me. I could actually hear the hairs on my arm burning and I just thought that was it," he explains.

Lee survived - but it was a long time until he was found.

"People were driving past thinking I was a dead kangaroo on the side of the road," he says.

Lee was eventually rescued, but the damage was done. He lost his left hand, right arm, right eye and both of his ears. His other eye and lungs were also severely damaged.

"Post the accident, you start to realise very soon the consequences of everything that happened to you, as far as the physical disabilities are concerned. I'm sort of starting to come to grips with it now and trying to do the best I can," he says.

With the help of Australia's Lifetime Support Authority, the Lee's home has been equipped with voice-activated technology to control the TV, lights, ceiling fan, blinds and even the shower.

On Wednesday, Lee attended the Digital Health Week NZ conference in Hamilton to talk about how it's helped him regain his independence.

He has also been a speaker for the NZ Burn Support Group Charitable Trust.

Lee says he feels lucky to be alive and wants to share his story to prevent others from suffering.

"People don't realise what it's like when it actually happens. This business of, 'I'm going to stay and protect my house'... just get out," he advises.

For Lee, watching the current wildfires ravaging Australia brings it all back.

"It's déjà vu," he says.

"Loss of life can't be replaced. You're far better off getting out when you can, that's my advice. Don't try and save the house with a water hose, you're wasting your time."