It was close to 35 degrees at 4am on New Year's Eve as Zena Armstrong and her family stood at her home, on a hill, eight kilometres outside Cobargo.
"You could feel the waves of heat coming back across the valley," Ms Armstong said.
A call from a nearby neighbour urging them to "get out now" made the decision whether to stay and fight or evacuate.
"You don't argue with a very laconic farmer when he tells you to get out," she said.
Miraculously, the family home survived. However many in Cobargo weren't so lucky.
Three people died when the Badja Forest Road hit the town, another died later in hospital. More than 100 homes were destroyed, many more damaged and countless animals, domestic and native alike, were killed.
But since the devastation their town suffered, the residents of Cobargo have banded together to raise funds and not only rebuild their town, but make it more resilient to future disasters.
With the bushfire and natural disaster royal commission findings, released on Friday, suggesting Australia was going to experience more frequent and severe natural disasters, Ms Armstrong said incorporating resilience in town infrastructure was a key concern.
They launched the Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund, of which Ms Armstrong is president, to support local ventures aimed at building a better Cobargo.
"People lost loved ones, animals, properties. For them there's been an awful lot of grieving," Ms Armstrong said.
"We lost so much of the historic heart of our village.
"But there's also been a great determination to come back from this better than before. A real feeling that we will come back stronger."
Cobargo's fundraising effort mirrored many groups and individuals across the country who resorted to online campaigns to inject money into devastated communities.
A new report from GoFundMe reveals that since November 2019, more than $43 million has been donated from across Australia and the world through the platform. It has hosted 5570 different bushfire-related fundraisers.
Ms Armstrong said that after a disaster, communities often relied on volunteers and companies willing to do pro bono work. But she said the work to plan and design the rebuild of Cobargo's infrastructure needed qualified individuals to be paid.
Fundraising allowed that to occur where waiting for government grants to be applied for and approved took too long.
The Cobargo fund has raised more than $700,000 and will go towards supporting the town's community organisations.
"It has really empowered many people in the community to bring forward their ideas and see them developed," Ms Armstrong said.
The money is assisting to build a bushfire resilience centre, work to transition the town's energy to a mini-grid and a new community centre which can act as a refuge during fires.
GoFundMe Australian regional manager Nicola Britton said in times of crisis people were turning to crowd funding. People's generosity allowed these funds to be used to support both immediate and longer term recovery efforts, she said.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund can do so by visiting its website.