In the early hours of the morning of February 1, the Orroral Valley fire crossed the ACT border on its south-east side, and the main firefront charged towards the NSW towns of Bredbo and Colinton.
Once it crossed the border, it would become known as the Clear Range fire.
Despite being known by a different name, the fire front that hit NSW was the same one which tore through 83 per cent of the Namadgi National Park, or more than one-third of the territory's land mass.
While no homes were lost in the ACT, there were 12 homes destroyed by the fire in NSW, most in Bumbalong - a small settlement east of Bredbo and Colinton.
When the fire jumped the border that morning, it was time for the NSW Rural Fire Service to take on the ferocious blaze.
The captains of the Bredbo and Colinton NSW RFS brigades were prepared but they thought they would get the heads up from the ACT it had crossed the border. They didn't.
More than four months on from the fire, both captains have spoken about that day and the cross-border difficulties between the ACT and NSW.
'I had a gut feeling... something was wrong'
At about 8pm on January 31, NSW RFS Bredbo captain Ken Bowman placed a call to Cooma's fire control centre to get an update on the fire situation.
He was told the fire had only reached Boboyan Road, in the ACT, about eight kilometres from the border.
After hearing that, Mr Bowman went home to get some shut-eye.
"I was a bit tired and I went to sleep in front of the TV and then at about 4am I hear this helicopter and I woke up, I was still dressed," he said.
"I had a gut feeling, something went through my mind that there was something wrong.
"So I jumped up and opened the front door and I looked out and you could see the glow, then I looked closer and I could see the flames.
"I rang the fire control centre in Cooma and I said the fire is coming down here and they said 'oh we just had a report from someone going down the highway they could see a glow' and then I said 'it's more than a glow, the bloody fire is coming'."
A spokesman from the NSW RFS confirmed the Orroral Valley fire was reported to have started spotting into remote country near Mount Clear, in Bredbo, from a local landholder at around 4am. By 5am ash had started falling in Bredbo.
"A line scan (thermal image) from a NSW RFS aircraft confirmed a number of spot fires within NSW later that morning," the spokesman said.
But between 8pm on January 31 and 3am on February 1, the Orroral Valley fire had grown by more than 7000 hectares in the territory and was travelling in a south easterly direction, according to updates posted by the ACT Emergency Services Agency.
'How do I try and save those houses?'
Mr Bowman and Colinton RFS captain Graham Povey have more than 100 years of firefighting experience between them. They have also lived in their respective country towns for their whole lives and they know everybody and everyone who lost their homes on that day.
Both of them recalled the many stories of loss and heartache.
"The pressure it puts on you as a captain is absolutely ridiculous," Mr Povey said.
"I had a lot of houses across the river, a lot of houses you can't see from the road but you have to think of all of those... how do I try and save those houses?
"The only thing I can say what I did or the experience to me is that I didn't panic, you gotta keep a very level head on these things.
"I think with the strike teams I did have they were very good and they did what I asked them to do."
Mr Povey's property also came under threat from the fire, as did his son's house.
"I got a phone call from my son and he has a big place and he said the fire is here, there and everywhere," he said.
"I was just gone and went for about half an hour and then when I came back it was going everywhere."
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'We had no information on what was happening'
The ACT ESA and the NSW RFS have both maintained they were in constant contact throughout the fire emergency but not everybody felt the same.
Mr Bowman described the cross-border relationship as "terrible".
"The cross-border relationship between NSW and ACT is really bad, non-existent really," he said.
Mr Povey said he only found out about the Orroral Valley fire, which started on January 27, by chance.
"The only way we found out about the fire in the Namadgi park was by one of our group captains was out at the Good Good fire (in Peak View)," he said.
"He called up on the fire radio and he would have got the word cause he works in the ACT Parks and someone had rang him in his field and told him.
"From that day until it hit us, we had no information on what was happening."
A NSW RFS spokesman maintained there was regular contact between the NSW and ACT agencies. He said the NSW RFS also communicated with the relevant NSW brigades.
"NSW RFS and ACT ESA remained in constant contact in regards to the Orroral Valley fire in the days leading up to the fire impacting NSW," he said.
"All required brigades in NSW were also engaged and regularly communicated with prior to the Orroral Valley fire entering in to NSW and to date the service has not reported any issues from its members."
An ACT ESA spokeswoman also said both cross-border agencies collaborated in the days and pointed to the fact the NSW RFS included the Orroral Valley fire on its "fires near me" map.
She also said the ACT ESA began to include wording on January 31 at about 3:40pm on Orroral Valley fire updates of where the NSW community could seek information about the Clear Range fire.
This wording was: "This fire is expected to cross the border into NSW. Once this happens, the eastern flank will be known as the Clear Range Fire, with response and public information managed by NSW Rural Fire Service."
The ACT ESA had attracted criticism from NSW residents after it released a fire prediction map on the morning of January 31 that stopped at the ACT border.
Later that day the NSW RFS released their own map, which had the fire spread towards Michelago, Colinton and Bredbo.
State borders should be 'effectively dissolved'
Cross-border communication has been a historical issue, in fact Mr Bowman has a diary entry from 1971 that touched upon issues with a cross-border relationship.
In the letter, from almost 50 years ago, there are complaints about the NSW RFS not being allowed to cross the border to help fight a fire, which threatened Bredbo.
"1971... there's been a lot of water that has run down the Murrumbidgee River since then," Mr Bowman said.
Emergency services operate at a state level, which makes it difficult when a fire is threatening two jurisdictions. Volunteers cannot simply cross the border to fight a fire without obtaining permission. As well, state fire and emergency services do not share a radio network and are therefore not privy to cross-border fire fighting efforts on the ground.
The Royal Commission into National Disaster Arrangements has heard about the difficulties around cross-border fire responses. A hearing heard state borders should be "effectively dissolved" if there was a fire approaching.
The NSW RFS have previously told The Canberra Times the NSW and ACT shared information around incident action plans, line scan imagery, fire prediction maps and public messaging.
A liaison officer from the NSW RFS was positioned in the ACT's incident control centre and an ACT liaison officer was in the NSW state operations centre.
Liaison officers are the key contact for information sharing and provide connections, transparency and situational awareness to and from incident management teams, according to the ESA spokeswoman.
Requests to cross the border also come from liaison officers and not individual brigades.
ACT Rural Fire Service staff have told an "after action review" into the territory's bushfire response they felt the ACT RFS and ESA were "considered arrogant" by interstate agencies.
Staff claimed this was due to information not being shared with cross-border agencies and there was a "lack of collaboration".
Volunteers also said there was "reputational damage" to territory crews.
It said ACT crews would be heading to fight fires in NSW but were redirected back to fight fires in the territory with no communication about the change. Feedback from the ACT volunteers said NSW would be left without resources they were expecting.
When asked if he felt the ACT agencies seemed arrogant Mr Povey said: "I think they would be pretty right on that one... very arrogant".
The comments from the ACT RFS staff came as part of an internal review marked "draft for discussion" that was leaked to The Canberra Times.
It has been previously reported crews from the ACT Rivers RFS brigade had wanted to cross the border to help protect properties near Bredbo but were not allowed. Members from the Rivers RFS challenged ACT Emergency Services Commissioner Georgeina Whelan about this at a meeting in February.
Mr Povey also claimed he heard of other ACT RFS volunteers who wanted to cross the border and The Canberra Times has heard from other ACT volunteers who also wanted to fight help fight the Clear Range fire.
But during the Orroral Valley and Clear Range fires neither ACT or NSW crews crossed the border to fight the fire on the ground.
"Rural fire service brigades across Australia do not self-respond across jurisdictional borders," the ESA spokeswoman said.
"Should NSW or ACT need assistance, resourcing requests come through the liaison officer.
"There is no record of an official request between the agencies on or before January 31 that would confirm ACT units operated in NSW, or NSW units operated in the ACT.
"ESA did not receive a formal request from NSW RFS for ACT units to go into NSW specifically for the Clear Range fire.
"ACT units were placed on standby in areas south of the ACT near the NSW border by the ACT IMT as a contingency due to the unpredictable fire activity in the region."
The NSW RFS said firefighters were not deployed in the ACT prior to January 31 but aerial support was provided to the ACT.
'A better cross-border relationship'
Mr Bowman and Mr Povey both fear the next fire season will be worse.
"If we don't get rain, next season is going to be just as bad as the last season because it is so dry here. We have had no rain in Bredbo," Mr Bowman said.
Before then, the pair would like to see better cross-border cooperation between ACT and NSW RFS volunteers.
Mr Bowman said meetings with ACT agencies and neighbouring NSW brigades had previously been held, one as early as last year.
"[We need] a better cross-border relationship, we have had meetings in the past and it doesn't work," he said.
"We need people in their control centre to relay that back to us."