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'It's all f****** gone' - Tearful NSW family describes loss in Australian bushfires

The tiny village of Nerrigundah in New South Wales has been among the hardest hit by Australia's devastating wildfires, with about two-thirds of the homes destroyed. A man in his 70s who lived near the village was killed. Like many small communities in Australia that have been scorched by the wildfires, Nerrigundah will never be the same.

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Nerrigundah, in New South Wales, has been among the hardest hit by Australia's bushfires. Source: Associated Press

The wildfire caught the village by surprise, after it was expected to hit a day or two later. And nobody could believe its ferocity.

Skye Threlfall, 21, who was home for the Christmas holidays along with her two siblings, says she woke up at 4am (6am NZT) on New Year's Eve.

She decided with her sister and brother to defend the family home, but were overwhelmed and took shelter in the local fire station. When the fire had passed, Skye was shocked by the devastation.

"There's nothing left. It's all f****** gone man, all of it," she recorded herself saying while walking through the orange smog and smoking rubble.

The Threlfall family home was one of only half-dozen houses to survive.

Outside stands an exploded gas canister, its sides peeled open like arms seeking an embrace. The stone sculptures made by Ron Threlfall, the fire captain, that depict people in anguish now have scorch marks running up their sides.

"The fire was so hot, and the wind was roaring, it was just pushing all these flames sideways at us. It was a storm. We had lightning as well, dry lightning, it's unimaginable. Honestly, it was just too much. I'm not going to relive that again," Skye said.

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A team of around 20 are tackling fires in New South Wales, 1 NEWS Australia correspondent Ryan Boswell reports. Source: 1 NEWS

Once out of the shed, or reinforced fire station, the three Threlfall siblings were able to put out many fires on their home and it stands today singed but solid.

Their mother Deborah could only worry during the long night as she watched from a neighbouring town with the family dogs as the fire descended on everything she holds dear.

"I was just thinking, 'I'm going to lose my whole family here.' I'll never going to… you know, that's it, it's gone,"Deborah said. "And it was just some miracle that fire shed held because of those sprinklers. I'm very appreciative to that fire shed."

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But that worry gave way to joy when her kids found her after the fire.

"I fell into my girls' arms and I felt my son on me and we were just all four of us in a big hug and it was just the most amazing feeling you know just holding them," she said.

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The BBC’s Jonathan Head has this report from New South Wales. Source: BBC

Once a thriving gold mining town home to over 1000 people, Nerrigundah has lately been home to just a few dozen people who love the peace of the Australian bush, a place far from the bustling cities where dogs can run free.

But now the 150-year-old store has burned down. The old schoolhouse is gone and so is the church.

Sky said she expects many to leave the village.

"It's just an absolute mess."