Australia's entire east coast faces an "above normal" bushfire risk this summer, with Canberrans warned to start preparing for the season now.
The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, which draws assets from government and non-government agencies across Australia and New Zealand, released its seasonal outlook on Wednesday.
ACT Rural Fire Service chief officer Joe Murphy, who was at a joint conference with other national fire chiefs, said Canberrans needed to start preparing for the bushfire season now.
"We've got a complacent community out there," Mr Murphy said.
"They need to plan now, prepare now and if the day comes, if the big fire comes, they need to be prepared to act."
Two years of below average rainfall, persistent drought and dry lowland forests have created an "above normal" bushfire risk in the capital.
"This indicates that fuel flammability in the lowland forests could remain high, creating risks early in the fire season," the centre's report said.
Mr Murphy said "above normal" didn't just mean more likely, it meant fires would be even more severe if they started.
"They'll be bigger, harder, longer running and more difficult to control," Mr Murphy said.
He said conditions similar to those before the deadly 2003 Canberra bushfire had again been replicated this season.
"We've got a very dry landscape," Mr Murphy said.
While the highland forests were still damp, Mr Murphy said they would dry out over summer.
He said Canberrans needed to go to the emergency services website, esa.act.gov.au, to prepare their bushfire survival plan.
It has been the fifth-driest start to the year on record, and the driest since 1970.Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre
Nationally, the report said the 2019-20 summer had the potential to be an "active" bushfire season across the country.
Parts of Tasmania's east coast, inland Queensland, coastal South Australia and parts of northern and southern Western Australia also faced above normal risks.
"It has been the fifth-driest start to the year on record, and the driest since 1970," the report said.
Between January 1 this year and July 31, south-east Australia, including the ACT, experienced the hottest maximum temperatures decile ranges on record.
In the capital, the biggest risks were lightning strikes starting fires in the bushland, Mr Murphy said.
He said last year, helicopters had sighted two isolated blazes started by strikes allowing firefighters to contain them before they got out of hand.
New regulatory powers introduced in response to last year's Pierces Creek fire would allow faster removal of abandoned cars from bushland in Canberra, Mr Murphy said.
The blaze was started after a stolen car was abandoned and set alight inside the pine forests near the Cotter.