UNNECESSARY PANIC: Rural firefighter says social media helps spread misinformation and causes panic in fire situations.
UNNECESSARY PANIC: Rural firefighter says social media helps spread misinformation and causes panic in fire situations. JoJo Newby

Fireys outraged by social media igniting panic

FIREYS are warning residents not to go into full panic mode on social media as fires around the region continue to blaze.

Over the past few days, The Glen's first officer John Skinner said he had been inundated by worried residents who had received false information from sites such as Facebook.

"I had people ringing asking me where to put livestock when they evacuated and we were 30km away from the fire," he said.

"I even had one person come to my house to see me and ask about the situation because they were frightened about being burnt."

Mr Skinner said it wasn't the first time he'd dealt with false information being spread through social media, but noted a worrying increase during Friday night's fire.

"It seems, in my experience, that it (social media) spreads misinformation and gets people concerned rather than putting forward facts," he said.

"It causes people to panic when there's no need and all they need to do is find official sites."

Mr Skinner said emergency services were usually aware of when towns had to evacuate long before residents were at risk

Those worried about getting current and accurate fire information should always look at the official QFES page or Rural Fire Service Queensland's website rather than social media, he said.

A QFES spokeswoman agreed that while community pages were a good place to rally community spirit and post offers to house pets and evacuees, disseminating information should be left to QFES fire pages.

"It's always our recommendation to check the official site, but if you see unattended flames then call 000 immediately," she said.

To keep updated, head to www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au or www.qfes.qld.gov.au or in an emergency, phone 000.


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