The Brave Firefighters Who Fought To Save Gold Rush Town From Firestorm
A tiny NSW gold rush town has seen more grey than the precious metal these days, but it owes a lot to a couple of heroes in blue and yellow.
Nerrigundah in the state's south-east has been devastated by bushfires.
And on New Year's Eve the tiny village saw some of the worst flames.
About 2am on December 31 local firefighters were woken up to a raging firestorm threatening the area.
Firefighting sisters Siobhan and Skye were part of the team that fought the blaze.
They told 10 News First of the horror felt as the firestorm raged towards them.
"I was just screaming out to her (Siobhan), I thought I was going to lose my sister," Skye said.
Siobhan said it felt as though the flames were going to hit them.
"I heard mum screaming for me to wake up, I ran outside and all you could hear was the deafening roar through like the whole valley and the sky was red," she said.
"It spot fired down near the bridge and I look down the hill and there's a house that exploded ... then this house exploded and then suddenly flames were everywhere."
Siobhan and Skye said they were almost overrun as they fought to protect their house before they were forced to flee to safety.
"We locked ourselves in and we're putting all our faith in the sprinklers ... we didn't know if it was the end," Siobhan said.
The crew was trapped inside with five-metre flames outside the windows for more than 15 minutes.
"All the embers coming in under the roller door and through the sides, and the front roller doors were just glowing," Caden Threlfall claimed.
"But it was so hot we couldn't put our hands on the roller door, we had to put our backs on it and just hold it there."
It was 4:30am in the morning when the firefront finally cleared and even then the fight wasn't over.
The crew's captain Ritchey and a few others were trapped in a neighbouring town, so they were determined to help them.
It took a day to reach them, chainsawing through trees.
"When I heard their voices it was so good, we were all hugging," Ritchey said.
Back at Nerrigundah, 95 per cent of homes were destroyed. It was a cruel day for a town made up of volunteer firefighters.
"I don't want to be here anymore," Skye said.
Hardest hit in the crew was Ash Graham, who had recently lost his wife.
He said he was prepared to lose his home, but not his dog.
"You can always lose something better," he told 10 News First.
"I would have sent my dog into town."
Although the number of houses left can be counted on one hand, the crew is still helping others to prepare for the next firestorm to hit.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the nine volunteers of the Nerrigundah Fire Brigade who lost their homes while fighting blazes. You can donate here.