RCMP say driver believed dead as fiery explosion closes Alaska Highway north of Fort St. John

·2 min read
The driver of a commercial tanker is believed dead following a crash and explosion along the Alaska Highway between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, B.C. (Submitted - image credit)
The driver of a commercial tanker is believed dead following a crash and explosion along the Alaska Highway between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, B.C. (Submitted - image credit)

UPDATE, Aug. 27: According to DriveBC, single-lane alternating traffic is now being allowed onto the Alaska Highway after a fiery crash closed the route for multiple hours.

The Sikani River Bridge remains closed to commercial traffic as of 9 a.m. PT Saturday. However, passenger vehicles are now being allowed onto Highway 97.

Further assessments are still being made by provincial authorities. Drivers are encouraged to check DriveBC for further updates.

Original story:

One person is believed to have died in a fiery explosion north of Fort St. John that has closed the Alaska Highway (Highway 97)  indefinitely to travellers.

RCMP say a commercial tanker truck carrying flammable liquids crashed on the Sikani River Bridge, approximately 200 kilometres north of Fort St. John, shortly before 8:30 p.m. PT Thursday.

Photos captured high-reaching flames and a large plume of toxic smoke as the tanker was completely engulfed by the fire.

Police say they believe the vehicle hit a barrier on the bridge and then caught fire but don't know what caused the collision.

They also said while they believe the driver is dead, they have been unable to thoroughly search the scene due to the dangers posed by materials in the truck.

B.C. Wildfire notified, bridge safety being assessed

RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau said the B.C. Wildfire Service has been called in to help as flames from the explosion spread to nearby brush.

He also said the B.C. Coroners Service and WorksafeBC have been notified about the crash, while highway patrol members and police dog services have been called in to help search the area.

A time for reopening the bridge has not been set.

"An engineer has been contacted and will attend today to examine the bridge structure prior to its reopening."

Popular tourist route closed indefinitely

The Alaska Highway is a popular tourist route from Dawson Creek north through Fort Nelson and into the Yukon and Alaska. It is also a primary route for people in Fort Nelson to access supplies and services from the city of Fort St. John and other communities.

Manseau said travellers should plan alternative routes in the days ahead and warned there is limited cell service in the area.