Wayne Walters was riding the bus to work Thursday morning along on a highway in the East Kootenay when a torrent of rocks and debris came crashing down right in front of him and brought all traffic to a halt.
“We came around the corner of the hoodoos and it was like a wall of fog,” said Walters, who lives in the small village of Canal Flats. “It was still rolling down the mountain, it was like a whiteout condition, and kind of eerie.”
The slide happened just before 8 a.m. on Highway 93, between Dutch Creek Road and Westside Road in Fairmont Hot Springs, about 70 kilometres from the Alberta border.
“A rock was in the middle [of the road]. A pickup truck was caught on the side, sitting over top of the rocks, pushed against the barricade,” Walters said.
“If we were just a few seconds sooner, we probably would’ve been with that truck.”
In an email, the Ministry of Transportation said an “earth slope failure” brought approximately 200 cubic metres of rock and debris, including two large earth boulders and some trees, crashing down.
As of 4 p.m. PT, Drive BC was reporting single-lane alternating traffic.
Doug Clovechok, the MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke, said the highway would stay closed until a team could come in to do a geotechnical assessment survey.
“With the exception of a few rocks coming off, I’ve never seen anything that big before,” he said.
Clovechok said the slide gives residents in the area a better idea of what drivers in the larger region have to face on a regular basis when driving through Three Valley Gap, an area with a lake along Highway 1 between Sicamous and Revelstoke that’s been a rockslide hazard for years.