Firefighters are bracing for a second wave of fire to strike the Southern Highlands this morning after last night's inferno - sparked by embers from the Currowan fire near Kangaroo Valley - swept through the town, destroying multiple homes and businesses.
Hundreds of Wingello and Bundanoon residents spent a restless night at evacuation centres in nearby Moss Vale and down at Goulburn after being forced to flee their homes when an initial spot fire developed into a major blaze at their doorstep.
Earlier in the evening, the Southern Highlands RFS team had advised residents living in the lower highlands villages that it was "unlikely" they would be hit by the Currowan fire, which decimated parts of the South Coast earlier this week before jumping the Shoalhaven River on Saturday and spreading north under strong southerly winds.
"Predictions on fire spread after the southerly change this evening indicate that the fire is unlikely to impact on any of the residential areas," the RFS said in a Facebook post uploaded to their page at 8pm on Saturday.
However, fire broke out south of Bundanoon less than two hours later via embers carried from the main Currowan fire front, which by then had reached the outskirts of Kangaroo Valley.
The rapid spread of the fire forced residents still in the area to flee to evacuation centres, while the RFS recalled crews en masse to fight the blaze.
The owners of the Wingello Village Store documented their night via their Facebook page. They initially moved from their home in Camden Street to the shopfront, where they reported seeing flames across a laneway behind the building.
"Embers are falling thick and fast," they posted around midnight.
"Smoke everywhere making unprotected eyes stream and lungs cough....fire in the main street. Trees on fire with embers catching the tree tops alight. Ready to evacuate from here at any moment."
The family painted a picture of the tragedy as they left the village a short time later, saying they "fully expect to return to ashes".
"Houses burning everywhere. Unless there is some stupendous miracle that defies any reason, we have lost the house and the shop," they wrote.
However, an updated post this morning revealed the shop had survived the blaze.
Meanwhile in the neighbouring suburb of Bundanoon also took to social media desperate for information on which streets in their suburb had been hit by fire.
"Just went for a walk around Bromhall, Penola, Lodge Lane and Forwood Cresent, all seems good, no damage just smoke and ash," Robert Williams posted on the Bundanoon Community Notice Board Facebook page in response to inquires.
Resident Wendy Brown said she fled the fire with her two dogs but had to leave her two miniature donkeys behind.
"I can't get anything on their position as the [Fires Near me] map said it has gone through where they are," she said.
"I am sick with worry."
Lovely Bundanoon warned neighbours of a second fire front expected to hit the area from the Penrose direction in the next few hours.