Fuel rationing and panic shopping begins as Cameron Bluffs wildfire keeps Highway 4 closed | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Fuel rationing and panic shopping begins as Cameron Bluffs wildfire keeps Highway 4 closed

Port Alberni, BC

It’s been less than 24 hours since Highway 4 closed on June 6 and motorists are reporting that a Tofino-based service station is rationing fuel purchases to 30 liters per customer.

A spokesperson for Tofino Consumer Co-op Gas Bar confirmed that the limit is being implemented until they can get a fuel delivery. But nobody knows when that can be since the fuel truck is stranded on the other side of the fire zone at Cameron Lake east of Port Alberni. As of 11 a.m. today, the Cameron Bluffs wildfire has grown to 140 hectares since it was discovered on Saturday.

“Especially what we went through overnight, we went through 2000 liters in less than 24 hours,” said the employee.

Further up the road at the Tofino Gas ‘n’ Go, it’s business as usual, for the time being. The employee there said he hasn’t heard of any rationing of fuel - yet.

There is concern that grocery store shelves in Port Alberni are going bare as people worry about when transport trucks can make it past the fire zone. While the shelves at Tyler’s No Frills looked good midday on Wednesday, June 7, the parking lot was busy. When asked if panic buying has started, the cashier said yes. She said that no specific items are being bought out but said that people are loading up on what they need.

Fuel stations around Port Alberni are busy. There is a waiting line at the Circle K fuel pumps.

In Ahousaht, people out on patient travel stranded beyond Port Alberni are being urged to contact the band administration office for assistance. Those with appointments on June 7, 8 or 9th that require them to pass Cameron Lake are being asked to contact the Patient Travel clerk in Ahousaht.

In a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure update issued at noon on June 7, Highway 4 will remain closed due to the Cameron Bluff wildfire and a detour route is in place. However, there are restrictions due to the industrial nature of the road and drivers are strongly encouraged to avoid travel in the area unless essential.

“The detour will route traffic from Port Alberni through to Lake Cowichan via Bamfield using forest-service and privately owned industrial roads. The gravel detour route has narrow sections, sharp curves, single-lane bridges and challenging terrain. There is no cell service, gas stations or washroom facilities on the detour route,” states the Ministry update.

They go on to say that regular passenger vehicles, such as cars, vans and commercial vehicles weighing less than 14,500 kilograms, can travel through the detour corridor. No over-height or over-weight vehicles will be permitted.

According to the Ministry of Transportation, the detour route extends travel by four hours and includes difficult driving conditions.

“It is strongly encouraged to wait to travel if possible,” they urge.

For those taking the detour, the province urges preparation and patience.

“Drivers should fuel up, bring extra supplies, food and water to be prepared for the high temperatures at this time of year, and note that conditions can change quickly. Drivers are encouraged to plan trips during daylight hours and to drive with caution,” advised the ministry.

There will be signs and traffic-control personnel directing drivers through the detour. Government staff and maintenance contractors will regularly patrol the detour to assist motorists if required.

The ministry states there will be information checkpoints for travellers at Youbou Road near Lake Cowichan and on Highway 4 at Aspeden Road near Port Alberni.

A map of the detour route will be available through an Emergency Travel Information button on the DriveBC homepage to help travellers make an informed decision about using the passage. Drivers are reminded to use caution and respect the direction of traffic-control personnel in the area.

For up-to-date information about driving conditions, visit: https://www.DriveBC.ca

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