Evacuees returned to Mogo expecting to find their beloved town razed by bushfire.
They arrived on Wednesday to find that reports it was destroyed on Tuesday had been wrong, and many houses and businesses remained standing.
While relief washed over some residents and business owners, scenes of devastation hit others returning to find their properties and shops levelled by fire.
"I don't think I've got it in me to start again."
That was Mogo business owner Averill Berryman's reaction to seeing her two businesses completely destroyed.
Her neighbouring real estate agency, ABC Property Sales, and dog groomers, Mogo Mutts, weren't among those saved. She only opened the businesses five months ago and had been "working seven days a week to get them up and running".
Returning to the rubble of her businesses in the main street of Mogo, Ms Berryman struggled to hold back tears as her son, Karl Niehus, rummaged through the wreckage salvaging what he could.
"I honestly thought the fireys would be able to stop it," she said. "I just didn't think it would come down the main street. "Most of my listings have burnt down too."
Ms Berryman drove into Mogo early on Tuesday but the fire was following her so closely she wasn't able to stop there.
She spent a tense day in Surfside waiting for information, which she described as "the longest day on Earth".
The business owner had to spend about an hour on the beach with a few hundred others as homes came under threat.
Ms Berryman said Mogo community members were close friends and would be hit hard by the destruction.
"We used to stand [outside the shop] every morning and have a natter and our morning coffee," she said.
Artist John Sharman's studio was destroyed, along with the Gold Rush Colony, the Little Tea Shop and several other homes and businesses.
Mogo resident and business owner Phil Mayberry had expected to return to a place totally destroyed by fire after hearing reports the blaze had razed the town.
He had stayed until about 9am on Tuesday when fire reached the town, about three hours after residents were told to evacuate the area.
Mr Mayberry and his partner Gayle Smith watered down their home, an 1870s-era timber house, on Mogo's main street, and also turned their hose on their businesses, a garden nursery and Mogo Bowerbird Garage, across the road.
He saw the fire build in heat and ferocity in the north-west of the district.
"We were on the edge of leaving but then the police finally came and told us to get out," he said. "The roar and the heat and the wind was extreme and we knew it was unstoppable.
"It was rolling on itself, it just came through because there's no humidity and it's so dry it just rolls on itself, and it hit the north west of town."
Mr Mayberry couldn't believe his home and businesses had survived when he returned from Broulee, where he had waited.
The fudge and ice cream shop, the lolly shop, the zoo and Carol Rose Cottage were among many stops for visitors that survived the fire. Two churches were hit by fire, in addition to several businesses.
"It's been devastating for part of the town, the rest of the town is still here, and we'll rebuild and we've got a good community spirit," Mr Mayberry said.
He had lived in Mogo since 1982 and had seen the popular stop for holidaying Canberrans grow.
"It holds a big part of our heart, it'll recover for sure," he said. "We will get the town back on track eventually and hopefully Canberrans will come back and enjoy Mogo again."
Business owners Barry and Teresa Horsburgh, who own Rosemont Patchwork Shop, were relieved to find their business survived after hearing Mogo had been destroyed.