Lindsay Lavis thought it was going to be alright. His wife had evacuated earlier, but he was staying to defend the family property.
Then conditions got worse and, the Tianjara resident says, it was horrifying.
"I've never seen anything like it. The darkness of the smoke would kill you before the fire would," he said.
"That's how it was. You couldn't breathe. There was no oxygen. It sort of just went white, and then black, and then you couldn't breathe."
Bushfire tore through Tianjara and destroyed two Braidwood Road homes - including Mr Lavis's - on Saturday. He returned on Sunday morning to see the building's remains of twisted metal.
He had stayed to defend the property as the Tianjara fire approached on Saturday until firefighters helping him told him to leave about 3pm.
"They reckoned we were going to be alright but then they just said to me 'Go, get out. You've got to go. It's just coming too quick'," Mr Lavis said.
He heard explosions as the fire moved through a nearby artillery range in the bush.
Mr Lavis said the conditions were horrifying.
A large bushfire-generated cloud - known as a pyrocumulonimbus - swept towards Tianjara.
"It was about 20,000 feet up. A storm. It came at us at about 70km/h," he said.
Mr Lavis left and stopped at another property further west at Greta's Road, Sassafras, and warned residents gathered there they should leave immediately.
"I took off and they took off and we all met at Nerriga," he said.
He registered at the Nerriga fire station and joined other residents who had evacuated to the village's hotel.
Mr Lavis spent the night in a swag out the back of the hotel.
"They were really good at the Nerriga Hotel out there. Everything was free for everyone."
Other residents who had evacuated their homes stayed at the fire station, village hall, or in cars and caravans.
Mr Lavis said his house was insured. He was planning on Sunday to drive to Nowra and reunite with his wife, who had evacuated to the coastal town on Friday.
"My wife wasn't here and no one got hurt. You can always build another one of these. That's not a problem," he said, looking at his property.
"It's a home but it's not my life. My wife's my life, and my family."