Firefighters block off a section of Highway 97A during earlier firefighting efforts on the Two Mile Road wildfire near Sicamous. (CSRD photo)

Province eyes post-wildfire debris flow mitigation plans along Highway 97A near Sicamous

Debris flows are a post-fire hazard and can be triggered by intense rainfall, says ministry

A stretch of Highway 97A beneath the Two Mile Road wildfire area south of Sicamous will be receiving ongoing attention in the days ahead.

Already this section of highway is posted with signage advising drivers not to stop when travelling through. This has to do with current safety concerns for the public and the crews working on the fire. There is also concern future inclement weather may trigger debris flows on the highway.

“Debris flows are a post-fire hazard and can be triggered by intense rainfall events,” B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) commented by email when asked about the likelihood of mudslides occurring on 97A due to the destruction of upland vegetation.

The ministry said there is a series of steps taken to identify and manage the risk of mudslides from wildfires. Before reopening 97A, the ministry said an initial ground assessment of the highway corridor was completed to identify hazards and remove danger trees in proximity to the travelling public.

Read more: ‘We’ve got a monster sitting above our town’: Sicamous fire chief on day 3 of Two Mile Road wildfire

Read more: Extreme smoke hampers aerial firefighting efforts at Two Mile wildfire near Sicamous

“Once it is safe and resources are available, a flight will be scheduled for engineering experts to assess the overall fire impacts to the highway network,” said MOTI.

Once the fire is under control, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development may conduct a post-wildfire natural hazard risk assessment.

For MOTI, debris flow mitigation activities can involve increasing patrols during inclement weather, additional ditching, culvert upsizing, enhanced weather monitoring and signage.

MOTI said the maintenance contractor for the Sicamous area, AIM Roads, has cleared the ditches there and will be increasing patrols during rain events. The ministry also said experts will complete detailed assessments of the area to inform further actions.
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B.C. Wildfires 2021Sicamous