Traffic still slowed as investigators examine site of fiery Alaska Highway crash

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

Investigators are trying to learn what happened during a fiery crash on the Alaska Highway in B.C.

On Thursday, the crash closed the road at the Sikanni River Bridge between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson. The highway is now open but only to passenger vehicles. Traffic is moving in an alternating single lane.

Sgt. Chris Manseau with the B.C. RCMP said the semi-trailer in the crash was carrying condensate — a liquid natural gas byproduct — when it skidded into the concrete barricades of the bridge.

He described "massive flames and a lot of black clouds."

"[Responders weren't] able to get to the truck or to the bridge or the road to even see what had initially happened until those died down a lot, but apparently the heat from that collision was very detrimental to the road and to the bridge."

Police say the driver died in the crash. The driver's name has not been released.

Traffic remains restricted

The Fort Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce told CBC News that some grocery stores in the community were running low on supplies and have had to temporarily close. Food deliveries were expected to get through Tuesday.

Traffic is still moving slowly through the area. The highway is open to passenger vehicles and some commercial traffic via an alternating single lane. It's closed to commercial vehicles over 15,500 kg. There's no detour possible in the area.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to work at the crash site to assess the state of the bridge.

"The bridge had to be examined before we could allow traffic to go through it," Manseau said.

"So engineers had to be contacted to examine the bridge, obviously once the fires were out and it was safe enough for them to make their way to the bridge as well, so lots of delays for that main corridor."

There is no indication how long the investigation will take or when the highway will fully reopen.