Shocked business owners on Bong Bong Street have been left reeling by the fire that has all but gutted a section of a block in the centre of Bowral.
About a dozen shops have been affected in some way.
But there remains a sense of hope and resilience amidst the ruins, with at least two businesses today planning a comeback, even as the smoke still drifted from the blackened timber.
Phillip Israel, who owned It's All Books to Me second-hand bookstore, has even got a new name for his business that gives sly nod to a mythological bird that regenerates in fire.
"I've had a lot of support from the locals, there are offers flying in," said Mr Israel.
"So I'm going to continue and change the name to The Phoenix Bookstore."
His entire stock of books, CDs and records have "all gone to book heaven" but he was grateful for the offers of 'new' secondhand stock from friends.
"In a way, I'm one of the luckier ones - I hadn't invested in any equipment as such, not like the barber's or the restaurants," he said.
"I think I'll be all right - I feel sorry for all the others.
"I expect they'll bulldoze the place and put something new up."
Mr Israel said he had raced into town last night after receiving a call at 9.15pm from Dos Hombres owner Mark Chance, to tell him about the fire.
"It was a dreadful sight to be honest," he said.
"It had only been going for 10 to 15 minutes but you could see there was no way in the world it was going to be saved.
"There were fireballs going up, and it looked like they came through the floor of the bank and went beserk."
A few shops along, First National Real Estate Abode Property owners Allan and Anna Falvey were shocked after learning that their growing business was gutted by the fire.
The business, which had moved from Mittagong to the main street of Bowral just six months ago, has had its office completely destroyed.
However, the owners say they will fight on, and are determined to establish temporary premises as quickly as possible.
"We have worked so hard to build a business with a strong reputation and everything was really starting to come together," said First National Abode Property principal, Allan Falvey.
"Our sales team is growing, our property management department is strong, and this is just a temporary setback that we will recover from.
"My wife Anna and I are determined to come back, bigger and stronger, and we're doing everything possible to reassure our staff and customers that we will see this challenge through and be back on our feet as soon as possible."
Today, First National Abode Property was in recovery mode, contacting customers and attending to appointments to show properties.
"Our customers still need us and we will not let them down," said Mr Falvey.
"For the moment, obviously, we're asking our clients to contact us by phone or email while we enact our recovery plan and get everything back on track."
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