It attacked the South Coast with furious speed, choking smoke and sheer size.
For Samantha Walker, the Currowan Fire was all the more terrifying because she did not understand it.
Her way of taking back control was to join the Bawley Point Rural Fire Brigade in March.
"A good way of combating fear is to take control and to use the knowledge and the information you have to best prepare yourself," she said.
"That is the best way to conquer the fear of the unknown when it comes to things like wildfires."
Ms Walker is part of a surge in new Rural Fire Service volunteers at the coastal village that fought back the Currowan Fire on December 5 last year.
Many of the brigade's newest members are women, bringing the number of its female volunteers to 18.
Among recruits in the last two years are mothers and teenagers wanting to protect their village from the kind of threat it faced as the Currowan Fire reached its streets in late 2019.
Since Ms Walker joined the 48-strong brigade, her five-year-old daughter has also felt more confident about bushfires despite last summer.
"She said the other day she wants to be a firefighter like mummy when she gets older, which is cute," Ms Walker said.
"She came down this morning and reported to me it was high fire danger today, so she's kind of involved but she's not scared, which is perfect, that's what I want."
Another new volunteer, Sue Brodie, had found it frustrating not being able to help firefighters last bushfire season. She joined the brigade in July.
"After the fires came through I really felt like I wanted to make a difference," she said.
Volunteer Jet Boone has finished advanced firefighting training at 16 years old after joining the brigade two years ago. She is eyeing a course that would qualify her to lead crews.
Miss Boone volunteered during the Currowan Fire and joined brigade members in evacuating Conjola Park residents from their homes on New Year's Eve. She said her experiences throughout the summer would help her fight fires in the future.
"It would prepare you a lot more knowing what could happen at any time, knowing how quickly things can also change with the weather, and how the fires can change at any moment," Miss Boone said.
Lise Percival had only been in the brigade for a year when she was part of a unit holding the line against the bushfire in Bawley Point last summer.
"You just do what you need to do. Your survival instinct kicks in, your common sense kicks in, and you rely on your team that's around you."