(CNN)As refugees from devastating bushfires crowded into a cinema in the Australian town of Mallacoota, "Frozen" and "Happy Feet" were playing to keep the kids calm.
Ash was falling from the building's air vents, covering around 500 people inside -- they were exhausted and overheated from fleeing the approaching fire.
"We got here and it felt like a death trap to be honest," said Canadian Meaghan Wegg, 34, who sought refuge in the small theater along with her Australian-born husband Tim Buckley, 37, and her two children Georgia, 3, and Jackson, 5 on New Year's Eve.
Wegg is one of the 4,000 people who fled to beaches as bushfires raged in Mallacoota, a family camping spot on the eastern edge of the state of Victoria.
After six days sheltering in the cinema, Wegg and her family got evacuated to safety on January 5. But it will take a while for them to recover from the shock of their experience, she told CNN.
No time to flee
The family flew to Australia on December 27 from Montreal, Canada, to visit some relatives and friends at the Mallacoota Campground, a popular tourist destination.
"On December 31, we woke up and it was already 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) which is a danger watch and fire ban for campers, so we decided to take the kids to the beach to get some water play," Wegg said. "We had a blast and stayed longer than we usually would have to keep cool in the water, took our time to get back in the air conditioning and as soon as we got there we had a 10-minute 'get out ASAP' call and the sirens were going off."
The family packed quickly and drove to another beach. They set up a tent and mattress on the sand, and waited.