Up close … Narrabri resident Mark Barrow took this photo on the road between Coonabarabran and the Warrumbungles. Photo: Mark Barrow
THIS is the moment Mark Barrow will never forget.
Staring into a wall of fire that had engulfed the horizon and that was fast approaching.
''It was pretty hectic,'' he said. ''I couldn't believe it. It came up so quick and was phenomenal,'' he said.
''There were spot fires all round us, we just saw this and fled.''
Mr Barrow, 31, from Narrabri, was travelling along Timor Road heading towards the Warrumbungle National Park for work about 5.30pm on Sunday.
''We had to get out pretty quick. I am not sure whether that house in the picture is still there,'' he said.
Mr Barrow took a quick picture, then immediately turned his car around.
He captured part of what the NSW Rural Fire Service on Tuesday said destroyed at least 33 homes west of Coonabarabran in the state's north west.
He was driving straight into a dangerous bush fire that burnt out more than 40,000 hectares of bushland.
About 100 residents were evacuated on Sunday night along a four-kilometre fire front, with people seeking refuge in Coonabarabran as huge columns of smoke filled the sky.
''If you have relocated to escape the fire, it is not safe for you to return. Do not attempt to go home,'' the RFS website advised.
The RFS were unable to confirm whether the home in the picture was lost.
''There were a number homes on Timor Road that were destoryed,'' a spokesman said.
NSW Family and Community Services, regional welfare coordinator, Dennis Shrimpton said a number of counsellors and chaplins had been engaged to work with those affected by the fire in Coonabarabran.
''There are emotional scenes, that's why we have the Red Cross here and counsellors, but most people are simply getting on with the job. They are quite a resilient people, who have suffered trauma,'' he said.