Firefighter injured, businesses struggle as Cameron Bluffs wildfire keeps highway closed

Firefighter injured, businesses struggle as Cameron Bluffs wildfire keeps highway closed

Helicopters bucketing water are visible again Sunday on top of the out-of-control Cameron Bluffs wildfire near Cameron Lake, east of Port Alberni.

The size of the fire is now 254 hectares (ha), up from the last estimate of 208 ha, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

Today, crews battling the flames have one of their own in their thoughts. The Coastal Fire Centre confirms to CHEK News a firefighter was injured on the mountain Saturday.

“The BC Wildfire Service is aware of an injury that has occurred during wildfire response on the Cameron Bluffs wildfire. The individual involved has been transferred to BC Ambulance,” the centre said in a statement.

“As per policy with any injury or accident, a full investigation will be conducted by the BC Wildfire Service and WorkSafeBC regarding this incident.”

There’s no official comment on the extent of their injuries, but an anonymous source tells CHEK News the person was flown to Victoria General Hospital, where they underwent surgery.

READ ALSO: Cameron Bluffs wildfire actually 254 hectares as detour convoys begin

As recently as Saturday, BC Wildfire Service officials said falling debris like rocks and trees on the mountain was a concern for firefighters. Photos of the mess were posted online.

Highway 4 remains closed, and B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is scheduled to provide an update on the closure at noon Monday.

A detour is taking commuters from Port Alberni to Lake Cowichan and vice versa via Bamfield, with four piloted convoys along the logging road happening daily until further notice.

According to TranBC, this will “ensure the movement of essential goods, such as fuel and food.”

READ MORE: Prioritized convoys carrying supplies on Highway 4 detour begin Sunday

Meanwhile, the road from Coombs to the Highway 4 blockade has been much quieter than it would be this time of year, and local businesses are hurting.

“It definitely has slowed down for sure the last few days. Everyone’s having to cancel their trips which sucks big time,” said Hannah Jensen, who works at Island Surf Company.

In Whiskey Creek, Bigfoot Burger operates in the building closest to the road closure and has been completely shut down until further notice.

“It would probably be about 50 per cent busier, I would say,” said T-Shirts That Talk’s Bill Bokstrom, who notes this weekend is the shop’s 13th anniversary.

“We’re not getting much traffic out front because of the fire, but we do have regular customers who are coming out here basically as a destination. They know we’re here.”

On the Island’s west coast, some resorts in Tofino, like the Wickaninnish Inn, report half the occupancy they’d typically see.

“Yes, it’s certainly a lot quieter than we would normally expect and certainly quieter on the beaches and in Tofino in general,” added Charles McDiarmidm, the inn’s managing director.

Locals tell CHEK News they hope the highway will reopen as soon as possible.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz
Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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