North

Fuel spill, ferry breakdown, snowstorm leave Skagway, Alaska, more isolated than usual

A fuel spill closed the only road into or out of town, and a mechanical breakdown kept the only ferry from Juneau away from Skagway this weekend. On top of it all, the town was walloped by snow.

Only highway into the community closed on Saturday after collision involving fuel truck

A view up Broadway in Skagway, Alaska, on Sunday. 'We haven't had a big snowstorm like this in Skagway for a number of years,' said Mayor Andrew Cremata. (Submitted by Andrew Cremata)

Skagway, Alaska, is a remote little town — but this weekend it found itself more isolated than usual.

A fuel spill closed the only road into or out of town, and a mechanical breakdown kept the only ferry from Juneau away. On top of it all, the town was walloped by snow.

"We haven't had a big snowstorm like this in Skagway for a number of years," said Mayor Andrew Cremata, on Monday.

"I really don't even remember the last time we had blizzard conditions."

Meantime, the Klondike Highway just north of town has been closed since Saturday, after a fuel spill. According to Cremata, an ore truck was pulled over and a fuel truck clipped it as it passed — causing a rupture in the fuel tank.

He said about 1,100 to 1,800 litres of diesel spilled, and the accident blocked the road. As of Monday afternoon, the highway was still closed.

The only ferry of the week couldn't get to Skagway on Saturday because of mechanical trouble. (Submitted by Andrew Cremata)

"Fortunately, with the amount of snow and frozen ground, nobody thinks that it's going to be an extremely difficult cleanup, as far as getting all of the fuel taken care of. But it is going to be a meticulous process and it will take some time," he said.

Cremata said it's hoped the highway will re-open on Tuesday. Updates can be found on the Alaska Department of Transportation website.

'Like living on a deserted island'

The ferry breakdown added to the town's headaches. Right now, only one ferry arrives each week in Skagway, from the capital Juneau, on Saturdays — but mechanical trouble meant there was no ferry this week.

"We had no way in or out. So it was kind of like living on a deserted island," Cremata said.

"But you know, that's a good time for everybody to hunker down and turn up the heat, watch some Netflix, and enjoy some quiet time." 

Some residents were left stranded away from home, though. Saturday's ferry was supposed to bring a group of young basketball players and coaches home to Skagway. Instead, they spent a night on the floor of the ferry terminal in Juneau.

A smaller vessel was arranged to bring them home on Monday afternoon, but Cremata advised the group to again stay in Juneau because of strong winds in Skagway.

The weather forecast did not look promising on Monday, with the National Weather Service issuing a winter storm warning for the area including Skagway and Haines, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now