Merv Bennett remembers fires where burning cow pats flew through the air like Daisy Wheels, and felt well prepared to stay and face Monday's Comberton Grange fire.
Until Monday afternoon the fire, burning around Forest Road in the Shoalhaven, had been the poor relation of the now joined Currowan and Tianjara fires that have left a path of destruction on the South Coast.
Watching its progress from their property and reception centre at Worrigee, the Bennett family saw the wind change as the fire was quickly upgraded to emergency warning level.
The fire's rapid south west movement would result in the Princes Highway being closed for several hours on a normally heavy traffic day, with no detours in place.
Manager John Bennett was full of praise for the "well oiled machine" the family met with, from the police at the door, to the RFS fire trucks in the street and water bombers flying back and forth from the Shoalhaven River, often through clouds of thick smoke.
John also had plenty advice from his father, Merv (76) who has seen a few fires in his time, and like John, stayed to defend the property.
"Dad was telling me how there was a bad fire about 45 years ago, and the wind was so strong that it picked up the cow pats. They caught fire and were flying through the air like Daisy Wheels," John said.
Merv also had the foresight some years ago to back-burn near the Brundee Swamp, which is on their property.
"When a fire gets into the swamp it burns down into the peat and can burn for weeks. We've seen that happen here before," John said.
The family's 200 hectare property is also home to around 25 horses and 150 cattle, which John rounded up to put in a safe place in the days before the fire came close.
"It's amazing what the animals know. In the days before, the cows were restless, bellowing for their calves. I had a paddock of mares I had to move. I drove up to them in the ute and sang out to them, and they just followed me quietly. They have such an instinct."
John said the decision to stay was a result of planning rather than bravado.
"We weren't going to be heroes. We had everything in place."
When the fire passed close to the property John said it was the smoke that was the most frightening.
"When you're in the middle of the smoke and you can't see what's going on it's scary. But the authorities we dealt with were amazing. The police, the RFS the aircraft working together - they make it appear seamless."