The Cameron Bluffs wildfire has no doubt impacted thousands of residents not only in Port Alberni, but the entire west coast including Tofino, Ucluelet and small communities in the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation. Despite the immense stress a forest fire can bring, first responders, the City of Port Alberni and our community members acted fast to do their part and give assistance where needed, in the way they could. The outpour of support for those stranded on either side of the fire has truly been incredible to watch. When the closure was first announced, the City of Port Alberni wasted no time in setting up our Echo Community Centre as a reception area for people stranded, and our local high school, ADSS, was able to house out-of-town students who were on this end of the island for a field trip. Residents in our community also came together and offered up spare rooms, air BnBs, trailers and campers for travellers who were unable to make it home. The fire was reported to the Coastal Fire Centre on June 3rd and, unfortunately, is believed to be human-started. Immediately following the wildfire announcement, the alternative logging road was lined with detour signs for the public. Crews with graders got to work smoothing out the 84km of dirt road and stations set up mid-route for travellers to ask questions and even grab a snack and drink. The route brings drivers on 2-3 hours of a dusty logging road through our west coast backcountry and opens up at Youbou in the Cowichan Valley. The route may be long and winding, but the scenery in our backyard is breathtaking, with the Alberni Inlet at one entrance and Cowichan Lake at the other. In between, the entire route is filled with lush greenery, small lakes, creeks and wildlife; it really is a beautiful drive. Highway 4 at Cameron Lake remains closed, and for updated information about the highway, visit www.drivebc.ca.
Cameron Lake Area
The fire may have come as a shock; however, the Cameron Lake area is no stranger to excitement and unexpected situations. With an incredibly deep depth, planes, trains and countless vehicles have succumbed to the waters of the 6km long lake. The lake is rumoured to have areas where it’s so deep, the depth is unknown. Theories of massive fish and a loch-ness-monster have also circled throughout the years. It is no doubt that this fire will go down in Vancouver Island history just as the rest of the events and stories surrounding the lake have.
The Ministry of Transportation has everyone’s best interest at the top of their minds and will continue to make calls based on the public’s safety. The fire may be easing up but rock and debris from the mountainside will continue to be monitored for several weeks, even after the road is reopened. While the inconvenience of being stranded can be frustrating at the least, we couldn’t be stranded in a more beautiful place! It’s moments like these where time almost stands still and we are left to remember how truly blessed we are to live in such a supportive and proactive community. We want to thank everyone who has been involved in rectifying the fire and those who have graciously opened their homes to strangers during a time of need. We are so thankful to have a community with such a big heart. Together, we will get through this tragedy and come out stronger as a community on the other end!
Written By: Stephanie Wakelin