Disaster tourists who risk their lives to get a selfie during bushfires have been slammed by firefighters who say they’re stalling efforts to get the blazes under control.
ACT Emergency Services Agency commissioner Georgeina Whelan said snap-happy tourists were blocking the road for firefighters at a press conference in Canberra on Wednesday morning.
The ‘out-of-control’ Orroral Valley bushfire was burning across 8000 hectares in Namadgi National Park and Tharwa, south of the capital, on Tuesday.
Despite the imminent danger, traffic built up in Canberra’s southern suburbs, where people were seen on the road and lookout points taking photos for social media at the height of Tuesday’s blazes, according to The Canberra Times.
People gather at Mount Ainslie in Canberra to take photos of the bushfire and sunset on Tuesday evening. The following morning, Emergency Services Agency commissioner Georgeina Whelan said ‘disaster tourists’ were blocking the roads for firefighters
Smoke has been billowing up from Namadgi National Park (pictured) for the past two days. The ‘out-of-control’ Orroral Valley bushfire was burning across 8000 hectares in the national park and Tharwa, south of the capital, on Tuesday
‘There were a number of people coming in to check out the fire to take photos and undertake in disaster tourism,’ Ms Whelan told reporters on Wednesday.
‘Please refrain from doing this. Taking a photo for Instagram is not worth your life.
‘It gets to a point where it puts lives at risk and limits the response of emergency services and police.’
In Tuggeranong in Canberra’s south, firefighters reported a ‘significant amount’ of traffic on Tuesday evening.
People reportedly climbed onto roofs to take photos and videos of the fire and were also seen on the street and lookouts getting the perfect shot.
Some roads that were invaded by disaster tourists were emergency services’ only access in and out of bushfire-stricken areas.
A tourist takes a photo of Parliament House eerily covered in smog. Ash is currently falling from the sky in central Canberra and multiple layers of smoke have shrouded the entire city
Roads such as Boboyan Road (pictured) are crucial access points for emergency services to the bushfire. However, people reportedly crowded roads and climbed on roofs in a bid to take pictures and videos of the Orroral Valley bushfire
Adding pressure to traffic congestion, several roads have been closed off by police in Canberra.
Tharwa Drive at the Knoke Avenue roundabout, Angle Crossing at Monaro Highway, Boboyan Road on the NSW border and Tidbinbilla Road at Point Hut are just some of the shutdown roads.
Many people climbed to vantage points across Canberra to get a view of the sun setting at the same time that the bushfire was blazing.
Sensibly, some people climbed to vantage points on the north side of the city, such as Mount Ainslie, which were a safe distance away from the fires.
However, ash is currently falling from the sky in central Canberra and multiple layers of smoke have shrouded the entire city.
Sensibly, some people climbed to vantage points on the north side of the city, such as Mount Ainslie (pictured), which were a safe distance away from the fires
Ms Whelan’s stern warning to disaster tourists comes after it was revealed that the Orroral Valley fire had spread 8,000 hectares on Tuesday.
Due to heavy smoke, the fire began spotting near Tharwa village, 30 kilometres south of Canberra, on Tuesday night.
However, later that night authorities said the fire posed ‘no immediate threat to properties in Canberra suburbs’.
On Wednesday, the fire was still active but was downgraded from a watch and act level warning to an advice level warning.
Community members in Tharwa Village, Boboyan Road, Apollo Road, and Top Naas Road were warned to ‘remain vigilant’.
Due to heavy smoke, the fire began spotting near Tharwa village, 30 kilometres south of Canberra, on Tuesday night. However, the fire was downgraded from a watch and act level warning to an advice level warning on Wednesday