'Disaster tourists' warned over 'Insta-worthy' photos of Canberra bushfire

·2-min read

Emergency authorities have issued a warning to people taking Instagramable photos while firefighters battle what has been described as the worst bushfire in Australia’s Capital Territory since 2003.

The ACT Emergency Service Agency tweeted a public service announcement on Wednesday calling for an end to “disaster tourism”.

“We know the fire makes for some insta-worthy content. Stopping on the side of the road creates an unnecessary risk to public safety,” ACT ESA said.

“Please do not clog our roads to take your own pictures. Use these,” offering up two photos taken by Gary Hooker from the ACT Rural Fire Service.

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ACT ESA’s Commissioner Georgeina Whelan called disaster tourism “a disgrace”, warning people that visiting fire areas could affect firefighting and evacuation efforts.

“It's kind of amazing and also very depressing that you have had to make this announcement,” a social media user replied to the ESA on Twitter.

A total fire ban was declared in the ACT on Wednesday, as well as a state of alert.

On Wednesday afternoon, the 10,000-hectare fire burning in Canberra was downgraded to ‘advice’ level after burning at an ‘emergency’ level the night before.

The ESA has warned people in the area may be affected by the smoke, which in addition to reducing air quality, could reduce visibility in the area.

Authorities said the blaze is the most serious bushfire Canberra has faced since the deadly 2003 bushfires, which destroyed almost 500 homes and led to four deaths.

Pictured is the blaze in ACT. Source: AAP
ACT's emergency services are warning against disaster tourism, which could hinder evacuations and rescue efforts. Source: AAP

It is believed the blaze was caused by a defence helicopter's landing light, which started and engulfed the aircraft within 12 seconds after it landed in Namadgi National Park while on reconnaissance.

Ms Whelan warned the fire could burn out of control for days, if not weeks.

- with AAP

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