From checking in on pets to offering spare rooms, Vancouver Island residents are helping out neighbours cut off from their homes because of a highway closure prompted by a wildfire east of Port Alberni.
Highway 4 has been closed since Tuesday as the Cameron Bluffs wildfire continues to burn near the road and is now around two square kilometres in size.
A logging-road detour was set up connecting Port Alberni and other western communities to the rest of the Island, but it has been closed for hours after a vehicle rolled into a lake along the route, effectively cutting off tens of thousands of residents. It is set to reopen at 9 p.m. Friday.
But amid the blaze and the uncertainty comes kindness from Islanders.
"The community, especially up in Port Alberni, is a very close-knit family. People are always there in time of need," said resident Diane Ward.
When the closures began, Ward immediately made posts to Facebook groups offering her two spare bedrooms to people stuck in Port Alberni.
So far, she said, a German woman visiting the Island has taken her up on her offer.
"I hope someday, if I ever need a little help, somebody will be there for me," Ward said.
Pets left behind
Many people's pets have been left home alone as their owners struggle to get back. But people like Jennifer Rees in Parksville, well away from the fire, have been stepping up. She's offering to feed and take care of animals in the area.
"Horses, chickens, dogs, cats, anything that I could help."
Dozens of other community members have also made posts on social media saying they can provide help.
Rees lives in Sproat Lake, just outside of Port Alberni, but happened to be visiting her mother in Parksville when the wildfire began.
"I will stay here until it is safe and all 100 per cent," Rees said.
LISTEN | Ministry of Transportation updates residents on Highway 4:
Unclear when highway will reopen
Janelle Staite, the deputy regional director with the province's Ministry of Transportation, said it hasn't been determined when the highway will reopen.
Staite reminds people that travelling on the detour is for essential trips only.
"I do acknowledge that people may want to go to and from the West Coast as we get into the summer months.
"But as we approach this weekend and recognizing that Highway 4 will continue to be closed, we just ask people to really consider whether or not they can go or whether or not they can wait."
Islanders say they will continue to be there for those in need.
"Our home is open to anybody who needs a place to stay, and both myself and my mother are available to go and help out with animals," Rees said.