Critical Links – I’ll keep this at the top:
- BC Ministry of Transport Hwy4 Advisory Page
- BC Wildfire Cameron Bluffs Fire Page
- Port Alberni Air Quality
8:30AM Update – Fire Held – New Map
I had to take a day to catch up on stuff and also finish the May 2023 Summary. I recommend reading it. It shows a the weather was setup for this wildfire. This will also be the final update to this wildfire post. I will make updates on their own post every day or two or when there are major updates.
They have updated the map slightly.
The Fire is still “Being Held” which means “Fire behavior is decreased and is currently displaying a smoldering ground fire with some open flame”. There are 108 firefighters plus equipment and helicopters. Not much has changed on the BC Wildfire site.
There does not appear to have been any fires caused by the lightning storm earlier this week. So that is a relief. There are only two new fires on the Island, one near the Nitinat/Carmanah turnoff off of the Detour route which has been put out and one up north near Port McNeill that is 3ha. Both were human caused.
There has not been much change on the BC MoT page either.
Multiple Accidents and issues on Detour
The detour is good, but it’s not perfect and there have been a number of accidents and incidents. The most recent I have heard is an empty fuel truck could not climb the hill at China Creek going south due to the loose gravel. These are all great reasons why the road should be paved and Highway 18 extended to Port Alberni. 🙂
They have updated their Flikr with some good pictures.
That’s it for now. I will post a weather forecast post later today on the rain and wind expected this weekend, particularly on Friday.
Thanks for following along, and stay safe out there.
8PM Update – Lots of things!
Incredible amount of lightning causes power outage and
There was a very significant lightning storm this afternoon. It caused more lightning strikes than I have seen around the Alberni Valley for a number of years. Check out the gallery below.
Good news – The new fire was either a false alarm or it’s already out. It is no longer on the BC Wildfire.
I witnessed the lightning bolt near Horne Lake from my 2nd floor window. The power went out immediately after to my house and the entire Port Alberni and West Coast. Even the Catalyst paper mill appeared to lose power. Luckily, the power came back on about 15min later and that was also the end of the storm which lasted about 2hrs and delivered less than 1mm of rain into the rain gauge!
There was at least one fire spotted. It appears to be on the hill of the Beaufort range north of Stamp River Provincial Park. Hopefully it is dealt with quickly. It is no longer on the map.
Fire Map updated
The map was updated and refined this afternoon and the fire area was actually decreased to 229 hectares.
Interesting to see the small circle outside the main boundary. We want to make sure there are no more of those creeping out!
They have had nearly 100 firefighters working on the fire today and other crews as well.
It will be sunny and warm again tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see if any more fires pop up due to this storm. Let’s hope not.
Take care out there!
4PM Update – Lightning detected
I will post updates on Mastodon as the weather develops.
1:15PM Big Update – Phased reopening and full updates
According to the Ministry Press Release: Single lane alternating traffic starting “as early as the weekend of June 24/25”. “Still needs to be an essential traffic only. Need to consider whether trip to West Coast is critical or if it can wait. Anticipate lengthy delays on Highway 4 with Single Lane Alternating.“
I am going through the Youtube of this afternoon’s announcement. It is below so you can see it in full. It was over 1hr including Q/A. I have highlighted the important bits below and am adding more as I go through. Refresh the page to see more updates as I add them in.
- Mountain side is extremely challenging
- Geotechnical is on site. Ensuring Cliff is stable.
- Will take whatever time is needed.
- Started Danger Tree Assessment on June 12.
- Fully closed for at least another week.
- Will set up protective barriers
- Danger trees and small and medium size rocks (the size of coffee mugs).
- Pavement is intact. Some roadside barrier dislodged and need to be repaired.
- Weather system coming today
- 2 dozen trees have come down on Highway 4 (up to 1m in diameter)
- There are water trucks and graders on Cowichan road to maintain it.
- Volumes — 15,000 vehicles per day normal Hwy4 between Port Alberni and Parksville
- 500-1000vhd on detour today
- 5 fuel trucks coming Wednesday morning
- Has been up to 12 commercial vehicles per convoy
What the Safety Measures will look like
They will be erecting the nets pictured below to contain rock and tree fall while the slope stabilizes.
These will be closest to Angel Rock. They are starting to stage the equipment and supplies for these measures right now. It will take about 5 days to do the installation.
Full tentative schedule is below.
They are concerned about the potential rain and wind impact on the slope.
From QA with Minister
- Are Tourists not encouraged until mid-July? “This is a live plan… targeted dates based on geotechnical surveys. We will have more information as we get closer to the Phase 1. We do expect some significant delays.
- On Secondary Routes — in coming weeks/months “we will look about that kind of access on secondary routes” – “There have been some improvements on the current alternate route which is why it was selected that make it the most drivable, desirable alternate.” (To second question) – “About a decade ago looked at an alternate route. We’ll undoubtedly look at that again. We have invested significantly on Highway 4 and on the current detour route.
- Is there any economic help offered for business — “Chamber of Commerce has reached out. A little to say if the Federal Government will assist with businesses.
- How much food/fuel supplies getting through, rationing? — “Some suppliers say they are carrying one fuel tank rather than a b-train. We are seeing the needs reach the West Coast. Milk and Agricultural feed are getting to/from. Prescription medication is getting through.”.
- Reduce fees for flights out of Tofino? Similar to when Coquihala was shut — “Don’t have an update”. Working on this with national/regional carriers. “There is a decent airport in Tofino/Ucluelet Peninsula.” “More to say in coming days”
- Long Term Fixes on Highway 4 for slope? — Barriers and netting are mobilized and will be maintained as long as they need to.
- Fire was human caused, investigation into responsibility? — “Don’t have an update. Minister Ralston may have update later this week”.
- What are conditions for best case scenario vs worst case — All scenarios will be informed by Geotechnical assessments. I hesitate to give a range. Would be premature. Will depend on soil conditions.
The Ministry said the area is not a concern for landslides, but rather for treefall and rockslides. I am reminded of 2016 when one morning this rock pictured below just “appeared” from the bush beside Cameron Lake.
It likely came down from the same slope affected from the fire. Let’s hope no more of these are lurking up there!
That’s it for now!
I am just waiting for information now. With the news last night that the fire is “Being Held” (definition in 10PM update) we now wait to see if that means the road is closer to being open or do we wait for the fire to be “out”.
We are getting some showers right now which will help with the fire.
There will be a news conference around noon. Expect an update here after that.
Big news! BCWildfire updated the status of the Cameron Bluffs Fire at 6:55PM tonight to “Being Held”!
“A wildfire that is not likely to spread beyond predetermined boundaries under current conditions.”
There are no other updates but that is a big one! I am glad I checked again before going to bed!
Note that this is not the same as the fire being “Out”. But the questions now will turn to how soon the highway can be assessed, made safe, and reopened. Does the fire need to be completely out first? I don’t know. Hopefully we will find out more at tomorrow’s press conference.
1PM Monday – I will update this post now.
News from BC MoT
The BC Ministry of Transportation released a news release June 12 at 12PM. Here it is in full:
Highway 4 remains closed at Cameron Lake Bluffs with a detour in place for commercial vehicles and people who must travel.
Assessments are underway to monitor the danger of falling trees and debris on the highway and to assess slope conditions. There is no estimate regarding timing for the reopening of Highway 4.
The highway has been closed since June 6, 2023, to keep travellers safe and support crews in fighting the Cameron Lake Bluffs wildfire. An update about the condition of the highway is expected on June 13, 2023.
Daily scheduled convoys continue along the detour route for commercial vehicles carrying essential goods and services. Checkpoints are in place along the detour route to provide information for essential travellers. For a map of checkpoints, visit: https://www.tranbc.ca/current-travel-advisories
Drivers are reminded to respect the direction of traffic-control personnel in the area.
For up-to-date information about road conditions, visit: http://www.drivebc.ca/
Images from Highway 4 and the detour route can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tranbc/albums/72177720308899528/with/52962540
They say there will be an update specifically on the condition of the highway tomorrow (Tuesday June 13).
BC Wildfire – Fire down, but not out.
The BC Wildfire Service is saying that they got 50mm of rain on Friday/Saturday which has knocked the fire right down but they say they will not change the status of the fire until they are sure they have it contained. It is 254ha. Map has not changed since yesterday.
Weather hot today – warm week – rain weekend.
We should expect it to be hot today and pretty warm the rest of the weekend.
There is rain forecast for Friday but if you look at the picture below, it’s not much.
What it should guarantee though is closer to normal June temperatures. So that should help the firefighters continue to bring the fire under control and allow the Ministry of Transport to assess the highway.
I’ll continue posting updates to Mastodon with the hashtag #CameronLakeFire. You can see them directly here:
Or in my feed below: