The big North Black Range fire near Braidwood was expected to continue through Sunday as the hostile windy weather picked up after overnight easing.
On Sunday morning, the fire had not moved significantly overnight. Winds are expected to strengthen from mid-morning, increasing the fire activity.
The advice for Sunday was that people south of the Cooma Road near Braidwood should be ready and well prepared if they were going to stay and defend their property, "or have a plan to leave early."
The south east boundary of the fire near Jembaicumbene and Majors Creek could pose a threat as winds increase.
Fire crews were ready to be deployed again after a tough day in unpredictable, gusty conditions on Saturday.
The fire broke through several containment lines.
Local firefighters were bolstered by reinforcements from the Illawarra, Southern Tablelands, ACT and other regions.
A hundred firefighters were involved.
A picture of the fierceness of the challenge emerged from stunned local people who had fought the flames on Friday night as the blaze surrounded their properties.
The Lans family - father, Ben, and brothers and sister, Rob, Matt and Raewyn - told how the fire was on three sides and within 20 metres of the home they had built with their own hands in deep forest.
They had planned to leave the property but realised that they had made the decision too late so had to stay and defend it.
"We had a back-up generator and we just got the sprinklers going," Rob Lans said.
They had bore water and a water system on the roof to prevent it catching light.
"It was very frightening. It was terrifying," they said. The heat was like a hot oven.
A fire truck arrived at the crucial moment.
"The fire captain from Carwoola was the calmest man in a crisis I've met," said the father, Ben Lans.
"He just exuded confidence and control."
Farmers helped neighbours steer cattle to safe paddocks.
Dave Bopping who has 60 head of cattle on Major Creek Road said, "I've prepared a fire-fighting tank with water and pumps and hoses to prepare for whatever comes.
He rode his motorbike along ridges to review the threat.
"It's got really windy here so I've come up to see what's happening.
"I noticed my neighbour was moving his cattle so I went and helped him move his cattle into yards on his property, then went back and secured my own cattle and put them in a paddock where there's no fuel for the fire.
"Now it's a watch and wait. But the firies have done an outstanding job to control the outbreaks."
Nobody could remember a bush fire this fierce or this early in the season.
"This is the closest a bush fire has been as long as I can remember and I've been here all my life," said Mr Bopping who is just short of 60.
'Devastated': Couple loses hand-built home to North Black Range fire
A couple has been left devastated, but thankful to be alive, after the North Black Range fire burning in Tallaganda National Park and near Braidwood claimed the home they built by hand using recycled materials.
Angela Hunter and Jake Annetts evacuated their property, Dog Leg Farm, on Friday afternoon. Dog Leg Farm is in Bombay, a small settlement of only about 100 people, just outside Braidwood.
Jake Annetts and Angela Hunter, who lost their home to a bushfire burning in Tallaganda National Park and near Braidwood. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
When the couple returned on Saturday morning, their home and everything they had worked for in the past four years was gone.
"We kind of already knew in our bones that it was gone," Mr Annetts said.
"But actually seeing it, that tore a great hole in our hearts."
Ms Hunter said they had "started again with nothing" when they bought the block about four years ago and set to work trying to regenerate the land, planting trees and growing vegetables.
The damage at Dog Leg Farm, just outside Braidwood, after a bushfire came through the area and destroyed a small home. Picture: Supplied
About two years ago, Mr Annetts built a small home on the property.
"It was a bit of a labour of love, really," Ms Hunter said.
"One of our philosophies is about recycling and we make furniture and art out of recycled materials.
'We just wanted to show that you can live with a smaller footprint, and using recycled materials and that sort of thing.
"It was a bit of a sanctuary, I guess.
Ms Hunter said she was "pretty devastated" to discover what had become of the home when she and Mr Annetts returned to survey the damage on Saturday morning.
"It's a bit like when you get burgled, that feeling of being invaded," she said.
Ms Hunter said they had taken some things with them when they evacuated on Friday, but the pair had lost sentimental possessions like art gifted to them by friends, and a banjo made in 1927 that Mr Annetts had inherited from his uncle.
"When you think about it, you remember all the things that you left and you think, 'Why didn't I get that? I could've taken five more minutes'," Mr Annetts said.
"But it's all just stuff at the end of the day."
Ms Hunter said the couple hadn't taken any chances when deciding to evacuate, particularly in light of their experience during the 2003 Canberra bushfires, when flames came so close to their former Bonython home the fence palings were burnt.
"We could see it coming over the ridge and from our experience in the Canberra fires, we just thought, 'No way'. I've seen how quickly these things can move," she said.
Since discovering their home was lost, the couple has been inundated with offers of accommodation, emotional and financial support, food and clothing.
As Ms Hunter explained this to the Sunday Canberra Times at the Braidwood Hotel on Saturday, she was approached by a woman who hugged her, before asking if there was any way she could help and promising to bring the couple a curry.
"The Braidwood community is really tight-knit and they've just been amazing, so we'll be OK," Ms Hunter said.
- Blake Foden
The Canberra Times