Bushfire sightseers told to stay away

Bushfire sightseers told to stay away

15 February 2009

published by news.smh.com.au

Australia — Sightseers have flocked to bushfire affected areas over the weekend, leading to new calls by Victoria Police for them to stay away.

Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana said that while many sightseers had good intentions of helping fire victims, it was important people stay away.

“Yesterday, concerns were raised about the number of sightseers coming into the area,” he said at the daily media bushfire briefing.

“We really do reinforce the message that we sent out on Friday: Please, if you are there for sightseeing purposes or don’t have a legitimate purpose for being in the area, please stay out.”

Mr Fontana said emergency services needed to be able to access the area uninhibited.

“By having other people in the area is just slowing the process down. We do need to get support into those areas, so we just urge that people do stay out of those areas,” he said.

Mr Fontana has also urged people to be patient while awaiting the outcome of investigations into the bushfire which has so far claimed 181 lives, burnt down 1,834 houses and destroyed 400,000 hectares of land.

“It (the investigation) will be going for six to 12 months; this is a really large number of investigations that are being conducted into these fires,” he said.

“I would just urge people to sit back and wait because there will be a thorough investigation conducted into the cause of each and every one of these fires.”

The task of identifying victims of the fire also continues, Mr Fontana said experts from New Zealand and Indonesia have joined Australian police in identifying the dead.

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