Wildfires this summer caused slope instability in Zeballos, leading to an evacuation order that has displaced 21 people. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Wildfires this summer caused slope instability in Zeballos, leading to an evacuation order that has displaced 21 people. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Risk of falling debris in Zeballos increased ‘tenfold’ following wildfires – geohazard report

Evacuation order that displaced 21 people still in effect

Evacuated homes located near the steep eastern hillsides of Zeballos are at a greater-than-ever risk of falling rocks and debris flows following this summer’s wildfires, according to a geohazard report released this week.

The situation has left residents like Alanna Janisse – whose family moved to the tiny coastal logging community earlier this year – in limbo. In June, they bought a house and two other properties that are now located in the evacuation zone.

“We were issued an evacuation order,” she said. “We had plans to move into the house over the winter, but that’s been on hold.”

Janisse, her husband and their two children – ages five and one – are now living in a rental property.

READ MORE: Evacuees say the BC Wildfire Service should have responded faster to Zeballos flare-up

“It’s unsettling, because it’s the unknown,” she said. “We purchased the property to live in… that’s kind of all up in the air.”

She spoke to the Mirror following the release of a technical report detailing risks to the community of about 100 people resulting from the summer’s wildfires.

Those wildfires led to a roughly tenfold increase in “debris flow and rock fall probability,” according to the 50-page report, prepared by the consulting firm BGC Engineering.

In September, heavy rainfall helped quench wildfires that engulfed some 128 hectares of land. But the risk of slope instability led the village to expand an evacuation order first issued in mid-August.

That evacuation order has displaced 21 people. It affects 27 lots, including 13 residential homes and one hotel, the Cedars Inn. The rest are vacant lots, except for two with temporary structures like RVs.

A state of emergency remains in effect for the village.

READ MORE: Zeballos evacuation order expanded due to danger of falling debris and slides

Meanwhile, the province of BC has closed the main roads to the village due to the hazard.

In a news release issued Tuesday, the BC government said a temporary alternate route has been set up north of town while Zeballos Mainline Road/Maquinna Avenue, which is north of the Sugarloaf Bridge, will be closed to all traffic until further notice.

“Work has started to remove significant rockfall and debris from the road and is expected to continue throughout the winter,” the ministry continued, “during the closure, traffic will be diverted to nearby Parkway Road and Zeballos Forest Service Road. Signs and closed gates will be in place on both ends of the closure to notify locals and visitors.”

In the event of an emergency or in case of a tsunami warning, the road will be immediately opened again.

Lightning storms sparked wildfires across the North Island on Aug. 11. Residents watched as the fire grew to an estimated 168 hectares by the end of the month, covering the town in smoke.

@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A weekend of sunny skies may have Victoria breaking temperature records, according to an Environment Canada meteorologist. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Temperature records eyed for Victoria with sunny weekend forcast

Victoria hit the highest April 14 temperature since 1926 on Wednesday

Fire crews respond to the 3500-block of Blanshard Street in Saanich on April 16. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: Saanich fire crews close road over smoking underground electrical equipment

Police diverting traffic as Vernon Avenue closed to all through traffic

A man accused of sexual assault has resigned as a coach at Castaway Wanderers Rugby Club and has had his employment suspended at The Local. (Google Streetview/Screenshot)
Rugby coach resigns, is suspended from Victoria restaurant following sexual assault allegations

Social media page creates a safe space for survivors to share their stories

A GoFundMe has been launched in memory of an eight-year-old boy who drowned at a Hotel Zed pool in Victoria on March 24. (Jane Andema/GoFundMe)
GoFundMe started in memory of 8-year-old boy who died at Hotel Zed pool

Child drowned after wandering off to the pool alone

Smoke is visible from the Trans-Canada Highway, April 16 around 12:15 p.m. (Black Press Media photo)
UPDATED: Saanich fire crews truck in water as hog fuel fire smoulders

No injuries reported following fire at greenhouse near Burnside West and Prospect Lake roads

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

The Nanaimo Clippers’ game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs slated for Thursday, April 15, has been postponed due to a “potential positive COVID-19 test result,” says the BCHL. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Clippers COVID-19 test negative, team can practise and play

Junior A hockey team had suspended activities the day before out of ‘abundance of caution’

Most Read