Wildfire crews backed by air support continue working to extinguish the Cameron Bluffs wildfire that has closed Highway-4 between Nanaimo and Port Alberni.
However, once the flames are doused, the highway cannot be reopened until an assessment shows that it is safe to do so.
Janelle Staite, Regional Deputy Director, Highways and Regional Services Division with the Transportation Ministry says they will need to check for loose trees and boulders once the BC Wildfire Service gives them the go ahead.
“A thorough assessment needs to be done after the fire to make sure that any of those materials that have been loosened as a result of the ground changing conditions of the fire have been addressed.”
Staite says they have been observing trees and boulders come down the slope and land on the highway.
Geotechnical engineers are standing by and ready to begin work immediately, and firefighters have already examined and noted trees of concern.
She says equipment is on standby, and though it’s impossible to estimate how long the whole process will take, she expects the highway to reopen fairly quickly.
Meantime, Staite says vehicles continue making their way along the narrow and winding detour route via Lake Cowichan and the Bamfield area to reach Port Alberni, with more than 15-hundred cars passing through today.
“A fairly significant volume of traffic that we are seeing out there,” according to Staite, “a lot of commercial traffic which is a great indicator that we are having goods get to and from the west coast.”
Though there have been flat tires and some accidents, she says the detour route is functioning well.
However, Staite says because of the gravel surface on the road, the rugged terrain, and single lane bridges, motorists need to give themselves extra time and drive with caution.
The detour utilizes forestry roads and private industrial roads and requires about four hours of travel time.