As unprecedented bushfires gripped the Mid-North Coast on Friday, November 8, Barrie Stewart was desperately driving from Brisbane to his home in Johns River, south of Port Macquarie.
But when he passed Urunga in the Bellingen Shire he began to panic.
"At Urunga I heard the southerly was coming and I knew we would be in trouble," he said.
Mr Stewart didn't make it to his Wharf Road home until the next day.
What he found devastated him, although his home and 25 animals were fine.
There was some minor damage to his fences and to the properties across the road.
Mr Stewart cried as he described Ms Fletcher as a "very good neighbour".
"She was always helpful," he said.
"Johns River is a very good community and we are going to have to get used to the fact that this has happened and Julie is not coming back."
Ms Fletcher's body was discovered in her burnt-out home on Wharf Road on Saturday, November 10.
Another of Ms Fletcher's neighbours Russell Souter said she was a "quality person".
"(She) would help you any time, her father was the same, they're just a really good family," Mr Souter told the ABC on Sunday.
Ms Fletcher's sister told Mr Souter she was "just devastated".
"What do you do when you lose a family member?," he said.
Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams described the death of Julie Fletcher as "an enormous tragedy".
"The Johns River community are a very close-knit community," she said.
"They do everything together and they will get through these tough times.
"But it is going to be difficult days and weeks ahead of them."
The Bills Crossing fire in the Crowdy Bay National Park ripped a path north-west on Friday night and early Saturday morning after intense southerly winds swept across already burning fire zones.
On Sunday November 10, the fire was still producing smoke in Johns River and residents appeared concerned.
Johns River Rural Fire Service captain Bruce Dudley told the Port News the last 48 hours had been "hell".
"I've been in the service since 1974 and this is some of the worst I've seen it," he said.
"When you lose a local person it hurts that little bit harder.
"But that's Australia there is not much you can do about it."
Mr Dudley said the Crowdy Head fire was always dangerous.
"The Crowdy Head fire started at Cattai wetlands and it sat in the box down here while we were at Tuncurry, and it kept leaping at us," he said.
Craig from Johns River said residents were aware on Friday, November 9 it was going to be a difficult day.
"Friday morning we knew we were pretty close to the edge of the path," he said.
"There was always going to be a concern if the wind changes."
Resident Tony Galati described it as a "really dark red blaze" which started to descend on the township before 11pm the Friday night.