‘Sheer stupidity’: Unbelievable fire activity
Authorities have blasted the "sheer stupidity" of some people amid "catastrophic" bushfires after people were caught flying drones, lighting fires and ignoring advice.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson slammed the use of a personal drone on Monday night after it was spotted hovering near smoke in Sydney's North Shore.
"There are no circumstances where an unauthorised drone should be flown near a fire," Mr Gibson said. "It is sheer stupidity as it puts lives at risk, both on the ground and in the air."
Although no fire was found, the drone could have seriously hampered firefighting efforts, the Killara rural fire brigade said in a post on Facebook.
"If a fire was confirmed at the location we would not be able to request any aerial assistance due to the sighting of a drone near the fire," the brigade posted in a statement on Facebook.
"Please do not fly drones near fires, you are risking lives, if you fly then we can't."
Flying drones near bushfires is illegal and could attract a fine of more than $10,000 and lead to prosecution.
The Killara brigade also saw a number of vehicles coming to "sightsee" the fire which the RFS crew said caused traffic chaos and hampered their ability to respond.
"Don't drive to where the fire trucks are going." NSW RFS spokesman Matt Sun said, adding that drones should never be used near fire crews.
"A mid-air collision with a firefighting aircraft could be catastrophic," Mr Sun said.
"People shouldn't be going out of their way to try and get photos of these situations, they shouldn't be anywhere near the bush at all, it is that dangerous," he said.
TOURISTS DEFY ADVICE
It comes as tourists were spotted at the Three Sisters lookout in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, despite warnings to leave the area.
Rural Fire Service Blue Mountains chief David Jones urged locals to leave their homes on Monday ahead of deadly conditions. A thick haze blanketed the area on Tuesday and schools were also closed.
Locals were also seen taking pictures outside houses in Sydney's Turramurra district where houses were doused in bright pink flame retardant.
RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons was quick to reassure locals the retardant would wash off with water.
"Clearly, it's not only hit the mark of the fire, but extended into the road and we've got crews, we've got vehicles, we've got homes, we've got property that is now coloured pink," he said.
"There are guidelines available … about hosing down and washing down the retardant."
Mr Fitzsimmons said the colour was simply a dye added to the phosphate-based product so aircrews could see where loads had landed.
BREACHING FIRE BAN
Meanwhile three men allegedly breached NSW's total fire ban while a nine-year-old boy has admitted to lighting a fire with a blowtorch, according to NSW Police.
Police allege a 27-year-old man was caught lighting a fire to boil water for tea at Wallacia in Sydney's west. He immediately extinguished the flames when police and firefighters arrived, and was issued an on-the-spot $2,200 infringement notice.
Hours later, police were called to a home at Prestons in Sydney's southwest, where a 35-year-old man allegedly burned fence palings in a cylindrical barbecue.
"Embers from this fire fell to the ground and ignited palings, causing a secondary blaze," NSW Police said in a statement.
Both fires were extinguished and the man was also issued an infringement notice. The third man will face court after he allegedly lit a small coal barbecue at a Lalor Park home in Sydney's west in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The nine-year-old, due to his age, was warned under the Young Offenders Act after a small grass fire broke out behind a street in Nowra on the South Coast about 11.35am on Tuesday.
Police say the boy, who was with a group of other children, admitted to lighting the fire with a blowtorch.
The total statewide fire ban remains in place and has been extended into Wednesday.
It means people cannot light, maintain or use a fire in the open, or carry out any activity in the open that causes, or is likely to cause, a fire.