British Columbia

Landslide traps small community in northern B.C.

A landslide has damaged the only road that provides access in and out of a small community of about 30 homes northwest of Prince George, B.C.

Company that maintains the only road in and out of Old Fort says it could be days before it's fixed

A landslide near Old Fort, B.C., has temporarily isolated the community of about 30 homes. (YRB North Peace/Facebook)

A landslide has damaged the only road that provides access in and out of a small community of about 30 homes near the northeastern B.C. town of Fort St. John.

Yellowhead Road and Bridge maintains the road that leads to the town of Old Fort, just south of Fort St. John.

The company's North Peace operation manager, Rodney Hafner, said RCMP notified them about the slide on Sunday morning at around 7 a.m. MT.

Hafner said the slide has pushed the road to the side and it could be days before it's fixed. 

"The slide's still moving ... it's slow and taking its time," Hafner said. "There's nothing we can do while it's still moving."

Old Fort Road is the only way in and out of the community of the same name. A landslide has pushed the road aside and made it impassible. (YRB North Peace/Facebook)

Hafner said landslides are fairly common in the area, but this situation is unique because it's in a populated area with only one way to access it. 

"It's going to be busy. There's going to be a lot of equipment on site and a lot of work to do," he said. 

Trees snapping and popping

Sheldon Kropiniski lives in Old Fort with his wife and two boys. He said the slide is about 90 metres across and big enough to take trees down along with it. 

"There's trees snapping and popping as you kind of stand there and watch it. It's been doing that all day basically," Kropiniski said. 

Most residents moved their vehicle to the other side of the slide so they can get around, he said. 

"It's going to be a bit of a challenge for a bit, but nothing like forest fires or anything," he said. "It's just inconvenience more than anything."

The Peace River Regional District delivered letters to Old Fort residents, Kropiniski said, advising people to stay in place and offering details about an Emergency Operations Centre in town.  

The district said Old Fort residents aren't directly at risk from the slide. An evacuation order has been issued for two properties near the community.

Kropiniski said there's a gravel pit about 15 metres above the top of the slide. The pit was closed for years but was reactivated about two or three months ago. 

"Questions are circling if that had potentially caused instability in the hills," he said. 

The slide is also about one kilometre from the eastern entrance to the Site C work site. BC Hydro said in a tweet that there is no evidence the slide is related to the project. 

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About the Author

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.