Residents in Canberra's most southern suburbs prepared for ember attacks and loaded their cars in case they needed to escape quickly as the Orroral Valley fire raged on Tuesday.
Sprinklers kept the roofs of Gordon homes wet while some residents climbed on top of their houses to spray them down with hoses.
Gordon residents Greg and Helen Laughlin had a 1000 litre tank parked at the front of their home ready to defend the property from embers if the fire drew closer.
An electric pump was connected to a truck, which provided a high pressure hose.
"We also have the caravan ready to go if we have to evacuate, but that would seem extreme given that we've just got grassland near us," Mr Laughlin said.
The property backed onto a small hill of short grass and trees spaced at least 30 metres apart. Mr Laughlin doubted fire would move through that grassland, but was preparing for embers.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, he raised the idea of evacuating his home of 11 years.
"If my wife wanted to leave, and take our 9-year-old, that would be fine. But I will not leave," he said.
His wife Helen interjected: "I'm not leaving you here". The plan was settled. The couple had spoken to their neighbours about their bushfire plans and preparations.
"I don't think anyone here feels afraid," Mr Laughlin said. "We made sure the soil moisture is high under the house and the grass is cut short, it's short and green and the ground is wet."
Down the road, Avril Pitt had her car packed and was ready to evacuate with her family to her parents' home in Belconnen if needed.
Black smoke billowing from fire behind Mount Tennent had worried Gordon residents about 4pm, but two hours later the sky looked clearer.
"It seems to be the calm before the storm at the moment, it's really quite calm," Ms Pitt said.
"This is a really good street, the neighbours are terrific, they all watch out for each other, they all chat."
James Clode was ready to leave the suburb with his wife and four children.
"We're just on standby waiting at the moment and keeping in check with all the other neighbours, and just setting up as best we can to prepare with evacuation plans and watering the houses and the roof and protecting the property," he said.
"If worse comes to worse, if we have to go, we have to go. Family comes first.
"At the moment it's not as worrying as it was before, because it looks like the wind's changed, but again you don't know. "It's sort of waiting while there's light, you can sort of see.
"But the biggest worry is probably tonight when you can't see and you're waiting, and whether someone stays awake through the night just to wait and watch, or thinking are you going to have to frantically wake up all of sudden and get out and go."
The Orroral Valley fire, which began on Monday, was upgraded to emergency at about 1.20pm. The fire was downgraded to watch and act at 11.15pm due to easing conditions. As of 5.30am Wednesday it had burnt 9500 hectares and remained at watch and act.
ACT Rural Fire Service chief officer Joe Murphy said fire conditions were unprecedented. He said the incident management team would spend Tuesday night working on how to get ahead of the fire on Wednesday and the coming days.
"What we have seen is a far larger fire danger than we expected," Mr Murphy said. "The fire will get bigger tomorrow, expect to see activity again."
Fire conditions are forecast to be dire on Friday and Saturday where the temperature is forecast to reach up to 43 degrees.
- ESA warns people to remain vigilant as fire downgraded
- Namadgi blaze is Canberra's worst fire threat since 2003
- PM setting out much bigger role for feds in managing fire risk
- How a mission to save Canberra from bushfires sparked the worst fire threat since 2003
- Bushfire warning: 'We are not going to put it out today or any time soon'
- New study outlines health risks of even short exposure to PM2.5 air pollution
- Why you may get alert messages even if you're not near the fire
- As it happened: 'Unprecedented' fire threatens Tharwa on Tuesday