I saw the flicker of a flame and next thing it was all gone.
IT WAS the strength of the Timboon community that picked a family up after a blaze claimed their business on Friday.
All that's left of what was once a thriving cafe-restaurant at Timboon's Berry World is a shell of scorched tin warped by flames.
Piles of melted plastic and debris now a reminder of where hand-built bar, boutique kitchen and dining tables stood on Friday morning, before a fire ignited in the kitchen hours later.
READ MORE: Beloved strawberry farm cafe burnt down
A weary but stoic Heather Nicholls, donning overalls and a hopeful smile, continued to welcome visitors through the farm today.
She and her family, who have owned and run the strawberry farm for six seasons, have received an outpouring of support from the community.
"The support has been brilliant, since 8am this morning we've had cars of people rolling in asking where they can help," she said.
"That's the beauty and joy of this local community - people who I don't even know have reached out to help.
"It's an icon of Timboon, people love the business and we love the business.
"When we came here this building was just a big shed and over time we've been transforming it - we built a big stainless steel kitchen and started to make all our own liqueurs and ciders.
"One of our workers hand-built our beautiful bar out of cypress wood. Those are the things that really break your heart."
The business operated six days a week and offered employment to young people in town.
Alongside its flavoursome berries, trademark coffee, cakes and scones, Berry World was a popular spot to get Thai food on a Friday night.
The family still don't know what sparked the fire that ignited just after 4pm on Friday.
"I saw the flicker of a flame and I thought, what's that? We had to get everyone out and by that stage we couldn't go back in, then the next thing it was all gone," Ms Nicholls said.
"We think it was made with the same cladding that burnt out that apartment in England and that's caused issues here in Australia.
"We will rebuild once we get the insurance money."
Grandson Tom Archibald often helps around the family business. He and a small team set about constructing a gazebo to continue trade on Saturday.
"It all happened so quickly," he said.
"Heather was out here the next morning, she is amazing.
"We will keep going until we rebuild."
News of the fire prompted an outpouring of support on social media:
"So sorry for the owners and staff. Definitely recommend going and getting some strawberries if they are open simply delicious" - Mandy Mark Dee
"So sorry to hear this, I will miss takeaway on Friday night!" - Tracey Matheson
"Sorry for your loss it is the best strawberry farm around. Always go when we come down" - Bev Stephens
"What devastating news. Thinking of you guys" - Marilyn Gristede
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