Emilia Edmonds, 5, of Kambah, enjoys an ice cream at the Rural Fire Service's open day. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
As huge blazes threaten NSW towns, Canberra also faces its worst bushfire conditions in a decade.
The ACT has sent about 60 Rural Fire Service volunteers and government staff to help fight the fires in the Blue Mountains, where several communities have been evacuated.
The service's chief officer, Andrew Stark, said on Sunday the capital was not as exposed as the areas around Sydney, but the threat to Canberra was likely to grow over summer.
Jerrabomberra Brigade member Tim Heseltine shows Situmi Maddumage, 3, of Dickson, how to use a fire hose. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
"At the moment, we haven't had the really hot, drying weather that the Sydney Basin has had," he said.
"We had a bit of rain a couple of weeks ago, so we have a little green tinge, but that will recede very quickly if we don't get any follow-up rain."
Mr Stark expected fire conditions in the ACT region to worsen "very quickly".
Gungahlin crew leader Ryan Winefield wields an axe during a demonstration at the open day. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
"In fact, we'll probably see conditions worse than we've seen any year since 2003.
"Unlike in 2002 and 2003, we're not in a drought, but we'll certainly have conditions where we can see really fast-moving bushfires develop close to property, that threaten those properties and threaten lives."
Two ACT "strike teams" – one comprised of volunteers and one from the Parks Brigade – plus helicopter and support staff have been battling the blazes west of Sydney since Friday.
ACT Rural Fire Service chief officer Andrew Stark. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
They will be replaced by fresh teams from Canberra on Monday.
Mr Stark said the ACT crews were "right in the thick of it". Half were fighting the fierce front near Springwood, where most of the houses were lost on the weekend, while the other team was battling another very large blaze in Mt Victoria.
He said Canberra's firefighters were highly respected for their expertise in mountainous terrain, due to their regular work in the Brindabellas.
ACT helicopter crews were also directly in charge of some of the air attacks on the NSW fires, he said.
"They’re what we call air-attack supervisors, so they're in a helicopter above up to six or seven other helicopters, directing their operations and telling them where to work.
"They're doing really amazing work at the moment."
The ACT Rural Fire Service held an open day at its helicopter base in Hume on Sunday, which attracted thousands of visitors.