A circuitous detour route to Port Alberni set up for the essential delivery of supplies due to the Cameron Bluffs wildfire will be closed on Friday for eight hours, as crews work to move an overturned container truck that has been lying in Francis Lake since Wednesday.
In place from 1 to 9 p.m., the road closure was announced Thursday afternoon by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure via DriveBC. The detour adds an additional four hours of travel time to the Highway 4 passage that vehicles normally rely on as the main transportation link to Port Alberni and Vancouver Island’s west coast communities.
Set up on Wednesday, the detour runs on logging roads south of Port Alberni to Nitinaht Lake, then east to Youbou. The detour is intended for essential travel only, such as the transport of fuel and food supplies.
“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,” cautioned the ministry when the alternate route was announced. “The detour route extends travel by four hours and includes difficult driving conditions. It is strongly encouraged to wait to travel if possible.”
Shortly after the detour was established, accidents were reported, including a container truck that overturned on Franklin Road near Nitinaht Lake, partly submerging in Francis Lake. The truck will have been at the site for two days by the time the road is closed for crews to remove it on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Cameron Bluffs fire continues to grow next to Cameron Lake, encompassing 180 hectares as of Thursday afternoon. Crews are fighting to contain the blaze, assessing the hazards of a forest fire on the side of mountainous terrain. Helicopters, water skimmers and water bombers are being employed.
“Crews are making reasonable progress considering the burning conditions, leaning substantially on aviation resources,” stated an update from the BC Wildfire Service. “Assigned resources are keeping the fire within the containment area. Crews and engines are working early and late on the roadside, taking advantage of the long daylight hours. Crews are working on the back side of the fire within trigger points.”
Meanwhile, the critical portion of highway by Cameron Lake will be inaccessible for an indeterminate period.
“Highway 4 remains closed due to continued debris impact on the highway,” added the Wildfire Service. “Ministry of Forests and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure slope stability experts are engaged in assessment and decision-making for public safety on the highway.”