Aslıhan DOĞRU -TDO- Authorities in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have declared a state of emergency in the area due to the growth of the wildfire south of the capital Canberra.

About the fire, where flames engulfed an area of 18,500 hectares, authorities said it was the largest fire in the region in 20 years.

Residents in suburbs of Canberra have been urged to "remain alert" for potential evacuations.

"The Australian Capital Territory is now facing the worst bushfire threat since the devastating fires of 2003." Chief Minister Andrew Barr told reporters.

"There's now no higher priority for the ACT government at this time than the bushfire threat." Barr said in a statement.

Mr Barr warned the fires "may become uncontrollable" as temperatures climbed to 40C and were fuelled by strong winds and he said the worst blaze was just south of the district of Tuggeranong, a 20-minute drive south of Parliament House in Canberra.

He added the state of emergency, which gives extra power and resources to fire authorities would be in place for as long as Canberra is at risk.

It prompted authorities to issue warnings against "disaster tourism" following several reports of people driving near active fire zones to take pictures, "I want to reinforce the message to disaster tourists they're not welcome as this fire approaches." Mr Barr said.

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