Nick Sowmam and his family were asked to leave their home near Lake Lopez this afternoon as the fire edged as close as 100m.
The fire stayed "mostly" within the 1000ha pine forest near his property.
"It was lucky for us, with the wind, not so lucky for others unfortunately."
He did not know the people who had lost their homes. One house has been razed and others threatened.
Before being evacuated, Mr Sowman said neighbours had come together to move stock and check on families.
"Everyone's pulled together... kept hoses going where they can around homes and so far so good, no injuries."
Mr Sowman said it was scary how fast the fire moved but the people in the area were pragmatic.
"You work out what you have to do, look after the kids and wives and get out of there."
With the main fire so close to his house, he and his family were off to stay with the in-laws for the night.
Meanwhile, Mary Stevens spent part of her day waiting at the cordon this afternoon.
She had been at Waimarama Beach with Peterhead Primary School. Her son was in one of two classes that were at the beach for the day.
The children had been told to get out of the water due to the wind and nearby shopkeepers had mentioned a fire. No one seemed to know just how serious it was until they headed back over the hill.
Traffic was backed up for about half an hour before she was escorted past the cordon.
She was nervous as she waited for the bus still in Waimarama, but after a short time the children on the bus were escorted over the hill and taken home to Flaxmere.