VICTORIA (CP) - Authorities say a massive log jam on the San Juan River threatens the safety of the town of Port Renfrew on southwestern Vancouver Island.
A log jam 10 years ago washed out the main bridge, cutting the community in two, but this time the bottleneck is much bigger. Port Renfrew fire chief Dan Tennant warns that if the jam were to break free, the entire town could be in danger of being washed away.
He told Victoria's A-Channel News he fears that "when it breaks loose, and I say when not if, it'll come right down" through the town, in addition to washing out the bridge to the Pacheedaht First Nation.
Some people in the community blame logging that's taking place in the hills above Port Renfrew, noting the number of clearcut logs in the jam.
Public Safety Minister John Les says the real danger would come in the autumn when the heavy rains hit, and the lack of an immediate threat gives emergency officials time to prepare.
"This time of year, the flows on the San Juan River aren't unusually high," Les told A-Channel. "But if we had a very significant rainfall event in the fall or the early winter, like we saw last year, if there was going to be a risk, that's when it would occur."