As the Currowan bushfire approached his property on Jindelara Creek Road on Saturday, Michael Weekes was about to seek shelter in his house and call triple zero, when a NSW Rural Fire Service unit from Wreck Bay arrived to help.
Mr Weekes had been preparing for the oncoming blaze. Gutters dripped with water, sprinklers were running and a generator was ready. Ash, embers and soot fell and bushfire smoke darkened the area as winds propelled the flames.
He said seeing the firefighters arrive was "beautiful".
"Perfect timing, I couldn't ask for anything better."
Mr Weekes said he couldn't praise emergency crews enough.
His property survived the Currowan fire despite flames reaching 60 metres high as they engulfed the surrounding bush.
"I've never seen anything like it. I've seen it from afar, but nothing ever like that. It's quite amazing. It makes you feel so small," he said.
He hosed down his property as firefighters defended his home from the blaze.
"You just go into neutral mode, and put your head down and bum up and do what you got to do, and you don't think too much about it, there's no time for the fear to take over really."
It is likely some homes were lost on the South Coast on Saturday as firefighters battled conditions described as "about as bad as it gets". While some residents evacuated, others stayed to defend properties amid the catastrophic conditions.
Shoalhaven Rural Fire Service spokesman Marty Webster said it had been an extremely challenging day across the three fire grounds along the coast, but particularly in the north and west.
"We saw some particularly dangerous fire weather and in areas the fire was generating its own weather, which is extremely dangerous for firefighters," Mr Webster said.
"The focus all day has been on the protection of life and property and it's all been about defensive firefighting," he said.
Liam Schubert fought the Currowan fire with his father as it neared the family's house on Tallow Wood Road at Woodstock.
His father made fire breaks while Liam put out spot fires.
"We got all the clothes and dipped it in the water and tried to wrap it up as best as possible," Liam said.
"We got the sprinkler set up around the shed but there were spot fires happening everywhere, if it was a little one, I could put it out with my feet.
"When it was a big one we had to start up the generator and the hose.
"It practically almost burnt down our greenhouse and it was pretty intense.
"It was just a massive flame wall that I saw. Right now it's just mainly smoke but before you could hardly even see through the smoke, it was just blackness and a fire wall behind it, it was just insane.
"I'm 23, I try to stay pretty fit, but inhaling all the smoke, running around, stomping on all the fires, it gets to you. There's not much room for breaks."
At Woodstock west of Ulladulla, 11-year-old Thomas Dawson was hosing down his neighbour's house at Westlake Drive as spot fires blazed in bush behind the property.
The neighbours had left for Sydney that day and Thomas joined his father protecting the property.
He was hosing the house to protect it from embers, while fire crews extinguished spot fires nearby.
Another neighbour, Steven Howes, was monitoring for any new spot fires lighting up.
"The more eyes that are out there, the quicker we can get onto things," Mr Howes said.
"We've been waiting for it to come for three weeks now, so fighting other fires elsewhere, and waiting for it to hit home. It hasn't hit home yet.
"This is only the start, so it's going to be a long Christmas."