Brett McNamara remembers the great fire of 2003 every time he looks in the mirror.
The manager of the Namadgi National Park has a scar on the tip of his nose where his face mask caught fire as he tried - and failed - to save his home.
"The face cloth that I had on at that time burned. Every time I look in the mirror today, it reminds me of 2003 because I have a scar on my nose, on the tip of my nose," he says today.
He and his family lived at the time in a house on the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
He woke on the morning of January 18 to see the landscape ablaze and his house and life in danger.
"I woke up that morning to see the Tidbinbilla range engulfed with fire, crowning as it came over the top," he said.
"That afternoon, the whole valley just exploded."
But it wasn't just the sight of the fire engulfing his home which put fear into his marrow.
"To stand there and witness the house burning is one thing but to hear the sound is something else," he said.
"The sound of the corrugated iron peeling off the roof, a bit like how you peel a banana, is something I will take to my grave.
"To witness and experience the ember attack which was so ferocious to actually knock me down. My helmet was knocked off my head. It is an experience that you never, ever forget."
The fires of 2003 were one of the big events in the history of the ACT. It changed perceptions.
On January 18, it entered and damaged the suburbs of Canberra after burning through the bush surrounding the urban areas. Mount Stromlo Observatory had been destroyed before the fire attacked homes in the city.
Within four hours, four people had died and 470 homes were destroyed. The Bush Capital became a direct victim of the wrath of the fire-ravaged bush.
Brett McNamara remembers the losing fight for his own home.
"That afternoon, we fought the good fight. We stood there and the house was engulfed by fire," he said.
"I remember being trapped inside the house house. Getting out, literally crawling on my hand s and knees and being pelted with the fire embers.
"It's those kinds of experiences which help me, particularly with 2020 and particularly in terms of crew safety and welfare . You don't have experiences like that where you feel fear for your life in terms of being engulfed with the fire without thinking about how, in the future you can keep you and your crews safe, and we did that in 2020."
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