As Jo Vakaahi stood on her roof with a hose as a ferocious bushfire barrelled towards her home, her frightened dog accidentally knocked the ladder over leaving her trapped.
NSW battled unprecedented bushfires on Saturday, which claimed the lives of three people, and destroyed more than 150 properties.
An emergency warning was in place on Saturday for the Hillville bushfire south of Taree, which threatened a number of towns including Old Bar, Wallabi Point and South Taree.
As people evacuated from Old Bar on Friday night Ms Vakaahi stayed to defend her home.
"On Friday night I went out the back to let my dog out and there was this glow of fires coming, I just hosed down the house," Ms Vakaahi told AAP on Sunday.
"I must have dozed off on the lounge and I woke up on Saturday morning and it was right there."
With the savage bushfire just 500 metres away, Ms Vakaahi said she climbed up onto the roof with a hose and a wet tea towel wrapped around her head, in a desperate bid to do what she could to save her home.
"The smoke was just debilitating, really thick and black and it was hard to breathe," she said.
"It's all still and eerie, there's no birds around ... I was really scared."
It was in that moment, Ms Vakaahi said her dog, in an attempt to be close to her, knocked down the ladder leaving her stuck on the roof and faced with the possibility of having to jump down, which could leave her injured and unable to flee as the fire bore down.
Fortunately, neighbours came to her rescue and after an anxious night the fire has now been downgraded to a watch and act.
"It's the tiredness that gets you, you want to sleep but you can't relax because you don't know what's going to happen," Ms Vakaahi said.
Just west of Old Bar, in Tinonee, Greg Walshe said he thought the small township "was in the firing line" and evacuated to a relative's in Taree.
Though they returned home on Sunday morning, the family is likely leave again on Tuesday with horrendous conditions forecast.
"We're going to clean up around the yard, we've got horses on another paddock and then we'll go out to Wingham," Julie Walshe told AAP.
On Sunday morning, 72 fires were burning across NSW, 36 of which were not under control.
Nine fires - including the Hillville blaze - remain at a watch and act level.
Hannah Higgins, Luke Costin, Australian Associated Press