'Someone's looking out for us up here': A night in the fire
THE scenes were like a Hollywood nightmare. Embers flying through the air across the night sky, firefighters rushing from house to house, keeping the residents of Wooloweyah and Angourie safe from the raging inferno that roared from the south.
And after a sleepless night, and a hectic morning, residents say they dodged a bullet.
"There's was definitely someone looking out for us up there," Wooloweyah resident Fleur Yorston said.
Ms Yorston said that after getting her kids from school and coming back to pack their Lakes Boulevarde house on Monday afternoon, they with residents from Wooloweyah were trapped by part of the blaze that jumped onto Angourie Road.
"We were just told that we couldn't get out, and the best thing was to go home," she said.
As night fell, and the fire approached, residents watch as firefighters prepared to make a stand for the villages, residents watched and waited as the fire raged across the hills towards them.
"It was quite surreal. We could see right down to One Man's and it seemed like it was moving so slowly, but came up the hill," Ms Yorston said.
"Every hour we'd go across the road and talk to the firefighters."
And as embers rained into Angourie just down the road, the fire hit a break, created six weeks ago from the village across to Angourie, and slowed.
The wind changed, and the firefighters gained the upper hand on the blaze, their focus intent on saving the residents and their property.
"It was a chaotic scene, but the firefighters were just incredible. At night all the planes had stopped and all the people were stuck in their homes," she said.
"But noone lost anything, noone lost their homes, and those firefighters were just shattered.
"Some of them had even come from the Drake fires just to work down here. It was incredible."
By morning, the fire threat now came from embers, spitting fires into places that hadn't burned the night before, keeping residents and firefighters still on high alert.
"Everyone was at the park looking at the destruction and our worries turned to the wind that was going for change to full on gusty southerly at 10," Ms Yorston said.
"And at pretty much that time it did, and embers and ash started flying down towards the village, but again someone upstairs was looking after us."
Valley Rural Fire Service incident controller Viki Campbell said strong southerly winds would keep fire crews busy overnight.
"I have no reported damage at either Angourie or Wooloweyah," she said.
"There were some embers attacking Angourie last night and today at Wooloweyah and fireys have done an amazing job to protect properties in those areas.
"Crews have done an extensive job containing the fire before it reaches Yamba. We have decreased the level given the current strength of that containment. However we are still monitoring that containment particularly with the strong southerly winds in that area.
"Crews will remain on scene at the northern containment line and in the townships of Wooloweyah and Angourie to continue to monitor any spotting activity over containments.
Since the Rural Fire Service declared an emergency alert level on the Shark Creek fire on Monday, that was rapidly burning through Yuraygir National Park and towards Angourie and Wooloweyah, 64 people registered at a NSW Disaster Recovery evacuation centre established at Bowlo Sport and Leisure, Yamba. Emergency accommodation was found for 37 people affected by the blaze.
The evacuation centre remained open until late Tuesday night, but a NSW Disaster Recovery spokesman said the centre would remain open longer if required.