Desperate acts of survival have emerged from the small NSW town of Bobin, where homes and parts of the public school have been reduced to rubble.
The community, north of Taree, bore the brunt of a massive blaze on Friday afternoon that gave residents just minutes to pack up and leave.
David Thies was trying to save a nearby home when his wife Margaret noticed a grassfire cross their street and engulf their next-door neighbour's home.
Within 20 minutes, the fire would also devour the Thies's home and shed, giving the elderly couple barely enough time to escape with their dogs, a few possessions and the clothes on their back.
The Thies joined other families at a safe house outside town.
"There was no time to grab any bags she had packed," granddaughter Shina Nixon told AAP.
"They all stayed awake in turns just staying alert for more danger.
"We didn't hear from them in over 24 hours; it was such a horrible night not knowing and listening to the RFS scanner."
Video from the town on the edge of the Tapin Tops National Park shows smouldering houses, including the Thies's, and the severely damaged public school.
Locals granted access to their homes reported that only the school's library and hall had survived.
"(We) are safe but we have lost everything this afternoon," local Paul Miscamble posted to a Bobin Facebook group.
Bree Parker said the whole community was devastated by the losses.
"But we are grateful for who we have in our lives and what has been saved," she said.
Crews remained in the Bobin area on Saturday night protecting properties, with the Tapin Tops blaze listed as watch and act.
It has burned more than 14,000 hectares.