Following the massive earthquake in Alaska last week, state troopers have issued a quintessentially 2018 piece of advice: Please, don’t take selfies at this buckling, unsafe and earthquake-ravaged stretch of road.
Vine Road near Wasilla — or what’s left of it — has provided the world some of the most staggering images of the damage left by the 7.0-magnitude quake that rocked the Anchorage area on Friday. Pictures on the ground show the road’s asphalt completely shattered, jutting this way and that like giant pieces of a broken plate. Aerial photos show the fissures from above and make it clear just how much the earthquake altered the landscape on either side of the roadway.
But Alaskans should avoid the road altogether because “unstable ground may put the public at risk, particularly if aftershocks cause additional movement,” Alaska state troopers said Monday in a department of public safety advisory.
Troopers acknowledged that the picture-taking impulse is strong.
“While it’s tempting to take selfies and explore, doing so is unsafe and inhibits the ability of officials to address the situation,” troopers wrote in the advisory. “Construction work has begun, and heavy equipment is being brought into the area to facilitate repairs.”
Selfies have led to disaster before: Earlier this year in California, multiple people in separate incidents fell to their deaths at Yosemite National Park during photos gone wrong, the Fresno Bee reported.
Large crowds have already congregated at the impassible roadway near Wasilla to get pictures and see it for themselves before it’s repaired, KTVA reports.
“This is an event and we survived it,” said GiGi Lemieux, a Vine Road onlooker, according to the TV station. “So, I had to come here with my camera and document.”
A phenomenon called “slope failure” is what doomed many Alaska roads during the quake, as the once-solid hills beneath the roads gave way. In some places, Vine Road fell as much as 20 feet, KTVA reported.
Joe Fedewa, a 63-year-old retired carpenter, was driving on that stretch around 8 a.m. local time when the quake hit, destroying the road beneath him, the Anchorage Daily News reports. But at first Fedewa thought he’d just hit a patch of ice, so he kept driving, he said.
“A couple seconds later it hit really hard,” Fedewa said, according to the Daily News. “It felt like the wheels coming off.”
Fedewa’s airbag deployed, and he suddenly saw a black cliff as tall as 6 feet in front of him.
“Then I knew it was an earthquake,” Fedewa said, according to the Daily News.
The Washington Post called the damage at Vine Road the most “photogenic” example of slope failure. Based on the number of pictures shared of the road, amateur and professional photographers agreed.
“The roadway looked like pieces of a puzzle,” photographer Marc Lester wrote for TIME, describing how he flew over Vine Road to capture the devastation for the Anchorage Daily News. “The light snow cover helped the cracks in the earth stand out and tell the story.”
Others used drones to capture remarkable images of the slope failure.
Fedewa’s car got towed off the destroyed portion of Vine Road, the Daily News reports, and he plans to sell it: “I’m gonna put it on an ad with a picture of it on Vine Road. This is the world-famous Buick.”