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When Alberta wildfires shut down roads, truckers wait ... and wait

Long-haul trucker Calvin Delucry has been stuck in Hinton, Alta. for days because of the Alberta wildfires.  (Konnor Killoran/CBC - image credit)
Long-haul trucker Calvin Delucry has been stuck in Hinton, Alta. for days because of the Alberta wildfires. (Konnor Killoran/CBC - image credit)

More than 100 wildfires continue to burn in Alberta and thousands are still displaced. As thousands of evacuees flee their homes, truckers on the road are feeling the pressure of being stuck.

Several highways west of Edmonton are closed because of the fires, including a part of Highway 16. Multiple fires in the area are making it difficult to get around the closures as well.

CN Rail told CBC in a statement that it is monitoring the situation.

"We are making real-time adjustments to operations based on the latest information available on both the winds and wildfires in the area. We are in contact with our customers regarding any impacts to their shipments," CN spokesperson Julianne Threlfall said Saturday.

Long-haul trucker Calvin Delucry has been stuck in Hinton, Alta., for two days. He's hauling barley to Camrose, Alta.,  but said the dairy farms waiting for him to arrive may be running out of barley for feed.

"Nobody's getting through. It's not just me. We can take solace in the fact that everybody's in the same boat, but it's a sinking boat," he said in an interview Sunday.

"We just want to go down the trail and do our jobs so we can get stuff in the stores, stuff to the critters. Everything's on wheels."

Delucry said his heart goes out to evacuees.

Submitted by Vickie Havlin
Submitted by Vickie Havlin

Perry Burge is coming from Burns Lake, B.C., and was headed to Nisku, Alta., with a load of pipeline equipment. He said he got delayed in Hinton on Saturday night.

His company is providing a hotel room and meals, which he said has been a relief.

"They're worried about us, so they're talking to us every few hours [to] see how we're making out," Burge said.

Among the other truckers, Burge said there is frustration, but there's not much they can do about their situation.

"It's part of the game. The fire guys have to do their job," he said.

Konnor Killoran/CBC
Konnor Killoran/CBC

Lonny McColman was driving from Vancouver to Mildred Lake in the Alberta oilsands, hauling tires. He said he's been waiting to move on from Hinton for three days.

"[I] can't spend another $800 on fuel going up and around so they're trying to figure out what they can do," he said.

McColman, who is based in Edson, Alta., said it's frustrating, not knowing how long the delay will last.

"What's the plan? They can't just cancel everything and make us sit here forever," he said.

For now, stuck truckers have to play the waiting game; Delucry said he's getting tired of it.

"If you love your job it's not hard to go to, but this makes it hard to love your job," he said.

Konnor Killoran/CBC
Konnor Killoran/CBC