A massive wildfire near Port Alberni continues to cause issues as fire crews manage the blaze that has closed Highway 4 for days. The fire, located south of Cameron Lake, began a week ago and recently surpassed 254 hectares in size.
The Alberni Valley Emergency Program updated its Facebook page Sunday, saying the response team includes a “team of 75 dedicated wildfire firefighters, ten heavy-duty equipment pieces, a coordinated incident management team, and four helicopters, with supplementary support from additional aviation resources as necessary.” On Sunday, the wildfire was currently designated as “out of control” according to the BC Wildfire Service website. Fortunately, BC Wildfire Services has upgraded the fire’s status to “being held,” which is a step in the right direction.
A detour route via logging roads through Bamfield to Lake Cowichan is open, but BC Transportation officials are requesting it be used only for essential trips. Because debris like rocks and trees are still falling, and a stability assessment is underway, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has announced Highway 4 will most likely reopen to single-lane limited traffic the weekend of June 24.
“Fire activity like I have never seen on our island.”User @Canadarecruits on Twitter
Dean Stolz from CHEK News shared on Twitter this aerial footage of the widespread fire over Cameron Bluffs. He also shared photos of the large pieces of debris on the highway, which are contributing to the ongoing closures.
When the fire began early last week, locals took to social media to share incredible photos of the blaze as it grew. User @Canadarecruits posted a photo on Twitter and wrote, “Fire activity like I have never seen on our island. #ClimateCrisis.”
“Everyone’s having to cancel their trips which sucks big time.”Hannah Jensen of Island Surf Company
Climate change is front of mind for many locals as forest fire season takes off and even the East Coast of the country struggles with out of control blazes and wildfire smoke. Summer 2023 is already on track to be the worst wildfire season in years in Canada.
The Union of Concerned Scientists just released a peer-reviewed study that found the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies produced emissions that contributed to 37% of the forest fire-scorched areas across the southwest of Canada and the western US.
Many local B.C. businesses are struggling as the wildfire highway closures reduce their traffic, which is particularly detrimental during tourist season. “It definitely has slowed down for sure the last few days. Everyone’s having to cancel their trips which sucks big time,” Hannah Jensen of Island Surf Company told CHEK News.