The Brindabella Valley community to the west of Canberra is bracing itself for a repeat of the 2003 bushfires that swept into the ACT. "We are anticipating that the fire will be here on Friday or Saturday and we are preparing for the worst," Paul Szymik, president of the local fire brigade, said.
The ACT Emergency Services Agency on Wednesday night advised the fires in the Snowy Mountains "may impact" the ACT.
The Dunns Road fire, Adaminaby Complex fire, which is burning north of Adaminaby, and the small Atkinsons fire were being closely monitored.
"We are prepared to respond to each and every incident that may occur," the agency said.
It is too early to say that 2003 will be repeated. Much depends on wind direction but the community is preparing for the worst.
"We are waiting for the weather and the change of wind," Mr Szymik said.
He has been keeping a close eye on the nearby Dunns Road fire. "It's like a living thing. It's like a lava pool, with huge ground fuel," he said.
It's not going to go away unless there's substantial rain, which he did not expect.
He thought the present conditions were the same as those 17 years ago "except this time there are fires everywhere and the resources are stretched".
The local RFS has three trucks but Canberra businesses have donated more than $10,000, which has been used to buy extra fire pumps.
Mr Szymik said that such heavy-duty pumps were now scarce on the market. He was grateful to Hip Pocket Workwear in Canberra for $10,000.
Owner Kim Donaghue said she had lived in the city since she was 10 and her husband, Chris, was Canberra born. The firies used the donation to buy gloves and were given 50 heavy-duty smoke masks.
"We are Canberra locals and we thought we have to do something," Mr Donaghue said.
He planned to do more and hoped other businesses in Canberra would also donate money towards protecting the city and its suburbs.
In the Brindabella Valley, properties bank onto the Goodradigbee River in the Brindabella Range, which straddles both the Brindabella National Park in NSW and the Namadgi National Park in the ACT.
In January 2003, fire reached Canberra from the west. Lightning sparked smaller fires that converged, taking four lives and destroying 470 homes.
One of the Brindabella Valley property owners, Fiona Patten, said she had alerted the ACT government to what she feared could happen if the conditions were wrong.
She remembered 2003. "The fires were out of control and they just came over the hill on to us," she said. "Next stop was Canberra.
"If we get a south-westerly wind, that will blow the fire through the valley," Ms Patten who is a member of the Legislative Council in Victoria said.
She has 500 acres there. She said that neighbouring properties in the area were often owned by people from Canberra.
If the fire does come and if the situation looks grim, her plan is to cross the river and head for the fire station.
"We are not going to stay and fight. We have created a second exit on our block and we'll cross the river and do what we can to help."
The RFS lists the "leave early" escape options as via the road to Uriarra, Canberra, Bondo or Tumut.
Both Canberra and Tumut are about an hour's drive in good conditions.
"Roads are gravel, narrow, steep and winding. Visibility on corners is poor," the RFS said.