The blaze that ripped through Winmalee and Yellow Rock on Thursday afternoon came through with such speed and intensity that workers became trapped inside their nursery canteen while the fire raged outside, some thinking they might die.
Video taken inside a nursery in Yellow Rock shows the building completely surrounded by a wall of fire with flames nearly licking against the windows.
While the workers appear calm in the video, in the moments that followed after the recording stopped some nursery staff began to think they were about to be consumed by the fire.
Many of the trapped workers called loved ones to say goodbye, others prayed for help as their shelter was surrounded by a wall of flames and wind billowed through the windows and doors.
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The nursery's fire wardens set off the siren to call everyone into the canteen while they waited for the firefighters to arrive.
Aleisha Morgan, 25, who recorded the footage, said that only took an hour from the moment they first heard about the nearby fire for it to completely envelop their sanctuary.
"You could see the wind was really bad, within the hour it was smoky, then it jumped the dam," she said of the fire that quickly bounded toward them.
Their frightening situation took a dire turn when they were informed the firefighters would not be able to reach them.
"We were told there was help on the way, but they were diverted to schools and there would be no help," said another witness.
But firefighters were not able to reach them anyway because the staff were trapped inside the intense fire front that no one could get through.
"It got pretty apocalyptic, winds were blowing at 100kms and there was fire everywhere," they said.
"I was so scared at that point, knowing we were trapped and there was no help coming I thought I was going to die."
When the room began to fill with smoke workers did his best to help other workers, wetting tea towels to so they could breathe.
Other workers ripped shirts and towels to block cracks in the walls and doors, wetting them with whatever water they had, even toilet water.
At one point everyone put their phones away and backed up against a wall and waited for the canteen to collapse in the flames.
"People were crying. A lot of people were frightened, thinking this was it," Ms Morgan said.
Despite 20 to 30 percent of the nursery building being destroyed destroyed, the workers survived the ordeal.
"Everyone today seems fine, the classic Aussie spirit," another worker said of the co-workers that today are trying to put the experience behind them and get back to work as best they can.
"We're not joking about it, we all know what was going on," they said.
It did not take very long for the fire that started on the edge of Springwood to reach the nursery nearly 5kms away.
Witnesses say at 3pm the smoke seemed really thick in the air, but the Fires Near You app and radio warnings had not yet reported that the fire that was burning right up the road.
Those that lived near Linksview Road where the fire started and a few others left, but by 4pm it was too late to get out as the fire was already tearing down Singles Ridge Road, the only way in or out of Yellow Rock.
Author: Nicholas McCallum, Approving editor: Matthew Henry