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Influencer faces backlash for posing before ‘apocalyptic’ skies caused by wildfires


An influencer is being labelled ‘insensitive’ after posting Instagram photos of herself in an orange ballgown after the West Coast sky turned a similar color amid the swath of wildfires.

Earlier this week, the skies sprawling over California and Oregon turned a frightening, apocalyptic shade of amber as dangerous wildfires raged on. 

Social media on Thursday quickly flooded with shocked reactions as pictures surfaced, but one photo set taken by a San-Francisco based blogger stirred some controversy. 

Colette LeClair shared a pair of beach photos on Wednesday that accompanied a message discussing her new move from the Bay Area to Los Angeles.

Colette LeClair (pictured), an influencer with 30K followers, shared a pair of beach photos this week on Instagram 

The photo set of LeClair (pictured) caused some outrage among social media users who dubbed the pictures ‘insensitive’ and ‘tone deaf’

But while LeClair was preparing for her nearly 400 mile move further south, some people online argued that the Instagram post was in poor taste. 

‘We live in hell,’ wrote author Carolin Moss, who flagged the pictures in a now-deleted Twitter post, Yahoo Life reports.

‘This is an influencer who just posted a photo of clothing she’s selling by *posing in it* on the beach in San Francisco as forest fires rage around her.’

The photo set also received backlash, with some calling it ‘tone deaf’, because itadvertised where to purchase the orange gown and was seen as attempt to boost traffic to her blog site.

As of Saturday afternoon, the Instagram post’s comment section has been turned off and the caption has been edited. 

Pictured: The caption shared with the beach photo set was edited by LeClair after receiving backlash

In the new caption, LeClair explained that post was simply a final goodbye to San Francisco and that the photos were an extension of love for photography.

‘My last day here! Wanted to say goodbye to the ocean and beach and do something I used to enjoy so much here for years- TRIPOD PHOTOS,’ she wrote. 

‘And to Clarify- I drove to the beach on my last night in town, and took photos, I love taking photos. I have taken photos for the last 3 years in this city. I love this city.’

The message ended with ‘prayers’ for California and the affected people, which Yahoo Life reports was not included in the initial Instagram post.

LeClair told the publication that she often takes photos on the beach, and acknowledged how overwhelming the fires have been for California residents.

In this photo provided by Frederic Larson, the Golden Gate Bridge is seen at 11 a.m. PT amid a smoky, orange hue caused by the ongoing wildfires, Wednesday

The Bobcat Fire burns downed trees in the Angeles National Forest on September 10, 2020 north of Monrovia, California

A view of downtown Los Angeles under an orange overcast sky in the afternoon in Los Angeles on Thursday 

‘There is a forest fire 100 miles from where I live, according to the news. It is heartbreaking,’ said LeClair, who has 30,000 followers. 

 ‘I am always Googling the fires and have been since they started, as most people in California would do. I am very sorry for the fires.’

Despite the amended caption and explanation, some social media users were still put off by the Instagram post. 

‘Last days are here!!….to get this dress! And…you know know save the environment and stuff,’ one person wrote on Twitter.

‘Influencer aspirations have poisoned the minds of these uncultured swine,’ another person chimed in. 

‘Doing a fashion shoot in California , posing with the Orange skies due to the devastating fires that have ravaged over 2M ACRES…I CANT. Should have stayed home and ate ya food!’

Some people on social media were offended or mocked LeClair’s beach photos (pictured)

One woman noted that LeClair took the photos from San Francisco as the wildfires scorched a devastating number of acres

One user quipped ‘does my dress match this burning home?’ 

Tanya Chen, a Buzzfeed News reporter, wrote: ‘An influencer in the middle of the california fires: hey guys I just wanted to hop on here really quick to say I know times are hard right now but remember to be yourself!’

One man responded to Chen, saying: ‘We all want these fires to be put out, but remember to never put out the fire in your heart. I know I never do and my Fit Tea gives me the energy I need to push through each day.’

Tanya Chen: ‘An influencer in the middle of the california fires: hey guys I just wanted to hop on here really quick to say I know times are hard right now but remember to be yourself!’

However, some people rushed to LeClair’s defense in the comment sections of her other Instagram posts.

‘I think the dress and the photos are STUNNING and very artistic. You found a way to show beauty in the midst of tragedy, and the juxtaposition is breathtaking. Don’t let the haters bother you,’ wrote on person.  

‘I came to tell you how beautiful I think the photo of that orange dress was but the comments were turned off,’ another said. ‘I think it was a very artistic shoot and can’t see how it stirred up any type of negative reaction.’ 

So far, more than one million acres and thousands of structures have been destroyed by the dozens of blazes across the state sending 10 percent of residents fleeing their homes in their masses.   

At least 29 people have died as a result of the fires, including a 13-year-old boy named Wyatt Toft who hid with his pet dog inside a car to escape the inferno.

Wyatt Tofte (pictured) was killed in an Oregon wildfire this week after huddling in a car with his dog to try to escape the flames

Wyatt (pictured in an undated image) died Tuesday in the Santiam Fire in Marion County, along with his 71-year-old grandmother, Peggy Mosso (center). Wyatt’s mom Angela Tofte (left) is in critical condition with full body burns

Mormon Lake Hotshots firefighter Sara Sweeney uses a drip torch to set a backfire to protect mountain communities from the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest on Thursday

Wyatt’s mother is in critical condition with full body burns and  his grandmother was killed in the flames.

Dozens of people are missing in Oregon’s Jackson County in the south and Marion County, where a fire continues to burn east of Salem, Gov. Brown told a news conference Friday.

Hundreds of firefighters battled two large wildfires Friday that threatened to merge near the most populated part of the state, including the suburbs of Portland, causing the city to declare a state of emergency Thursday.

In California at least 20 have died and there has been at least one death reported in Washington state.

Four people have been arrested for arson for deliberately starting blazes along the West Coast while the states are already grappling with dozens of deadly blazes.  

Donald Trump will visit California on Monday to see wildfires

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