Thirteen people were extracted to safety by Prince Rupert Ground Search and Rescue crews, after landslides blocked Lachmach Forest Service Rd. and Work Channel Service Road, 42 km east of Prince Rupert, on Aug. 16.
Prince Rupert Ground SAR was assisted by Terrace SAR in the emergency evacuation where four people were taken out of the blocked area by helicopter and nine others were assisted by road. Some evacuees had navigated out on foot prior to SAR intervention. An additional nine to 13 people boated to Prince Rupert. There are approximately 19 vehicles including boats, trailers and trucks left behind the slide.
“Three moderately sized landslides occurred at 9 km, 11.4 km and 11.7 km on the Forest Service Rd., which connects to Work Channel Service Rd, are blocking the road. The road is closed as a result and equipment will be required to remove the debris,” a spokesperson for Ministry of Forests, Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development told Black Press.
“This area has a history of terrain stability and sensitivity issues,” FLNRORD said.
The North Coast area has been hit by heavy rain during Aug. causing further slope instability.
Signage, warning of possible landslides, has been posted on sign-boards and the road has been closed with temporary barricades.The area is a highly used camping, coastal fishing recreation area and boat launch.
“The Ministry’s first priority is the safety of the public,” FLNRORD said. “Coordination efforts are occurring with Emergency Management BC (EMBC), RCMP and local government to ensure the well being and safety of those behind the slide.”
Despite the signage and the rescue operations, people are still camping and fishing in the area, Erik Brooke manager for Prince Rupert Ground Search and Rescue said.
There is currently a group of five people that have chosen to remain camped with enough supplies for two weeks. No injuries have been reported as a result of the slide, FLNRORD said.
Also in the area is Victory Cove Fishing Lodge, a floating lodge that can be accessed by water from the FSR.
“The lodge has been notified by EMBC of the FSR closure because many clients use this access route for the lodge. EMBC has confirmed that some owners of the remaining vehicles are clients of the lodge,”FLNRORD said.
“It is always a risk that someone could have been in the slide,” Brooke said. “When people are stranded by natural disasters, they are advised to contact the RCMP, who will then activate Search and Rescue groups through the Emergency Coordination Centre.”
Prince Rupert Ground SAR attends between eight to 15 calls per year. Brooke said it is important to be prepared when heading out camping and fishing by leaving a trip plan with someone and taking a communication device with you, as well as a personal locator beacon.
With files from Rod Link
K-J Millar | Journalist
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