The story of a Victorian firefighter who watched his own house burn to the ground while trying to save the homes of his friends is what stands out most for Terry Woodcroft.
A resident of Wye River for 40 years and now the area's deputy mayor, Mr Woodcroft has seen it all when it comes to the small tourist town tucked away in bushland on Victoria's surf coast.
Until Christmas Day, Wye River and the nearby town of Separation Creek were not well known in Australia.
But now, they have become the towns most affected by a raging, 2200-hectare bushfire triggered by a lightning strike on December 19, which has destroyed 116 homes, 98 of them in Wye River.
"At the moment, I'm at the Surf Club in Wye River just looking up the hill at the couple of residences that have been destroyed by the fire," he told AAP on Saturday afternoon.
"For a person such as myself who lives in this shire, it's quite a sobering site to see homes not unlike my own completely destroyed."
Mr Woodcroft said he was amazed at the resilience of those who have lost everything.
"I was talking to one gentleman earlier in the day who is a firefighter and he was visibly trying to save other areas of the town and was able to see in the direction of his own home while it was burning down," he says.
"What's striking me at this stage is just how strong everyone's being."
AAP photographer Julian Smith said the main street of Lorne was "post-apocalyptic" on Christmas Day, as lit-up restaurants had tables laid with half-eaten food, clearly abandoned in haste.
"Outside a Chinese restaurant there was a banquet of full dishes idling on an al fresco table. Some of them haven't even been touched. It's clear they have dropped everything and run for their lives," he told AAP.
Although Lorne residents were given the go-ahead to return from 9am on Boxing Day, howling winds and delayed rainfall on Friday had people believing the predicted ember attack would wreak havoc on the popular holiday town, Smith said.
One of the most moving scenes captured by Smith was of a woman tending to two horses while two young children slept on fold-out beds on the main street of Lorne.
"I thought it was very sweet," Smith said.
"The woman obviously loved her horses so much."
Saturday has been calmer, but for the fire still burning. It is time for people to face the devastation left behind by the blaze, something Mr Woodcroft says is difficult to see.
"There are lots of people hugging, being emotional," he told AAP.
"They're just so stoic, so staunch, perhaps consoling people. They're just bearing up as best as they can."
However, it's not only people who suffer in bushfires.
Amy Hidge from Wildlife Victoria says while it's still too early to say how many animals have died in the fire, people who come across an animal that "looks off" should call Wildlife Victoria.
"We understand that at the moment looking for animals is a low priority, but at this stage we just need people to look out for bush-affected animals," she told AAP.
"Often, you can't see if the pads on their feet have been burnt or if they have smoke inhalation, so we're saying that if they look a bit off, they're probably bushfire affected."