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Busload of B.C. students stranded by wildfire spend the night inside Vancouver Island high school

A busload of high school students were finally heading home to Nanaimo on Wednesday after they were stranded by a raging wildfire that forced them to spend the night inside a Port Alberni high school.

The approximately 50 students and their chaperones were meant to return Tuesday from a field trip to Tofino, a roughly three-hour drive from Nanaimo.

However, an aggressive wildfire burning along the only highway linking Tofino with the rest of British Columbia prompted provincial officials to close the highway due to debris obstructing the roadway and ongoing concerns about potential landslides.


British Columbia's Transportation Ministry established an emergency detour route around the fire site at Cameron Lake on Wednesday using logging roads that connect Port Alberni to the tiny community of Youbou, approximately one hour southwest of Nanaimo.

The students were still on the bus Wednesday afternoon after packing up their sleeping mats and leaving first thing in the morning to avoid disrupting regular classes at the Port Alberni school.

"At this time, we have not yet received an update from the group," Dale Burgos, spokesperson for Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, told CTV News on Wednesday afternoon.

The school district spokesperson said Port Alberni community members donated blankets and pillows to the students, while their families back home were kept up to date on the situation via email.


The Cameron Bluffs wildfire, located approximately 20 kilometres east of Port Alberni, grew to nearly one and a half square kilometres Wednesday afternoon.

With 26 firefighters, five helicopters and multiple air tankers attacking the blaze, the fire remains out of control, according to the latest update from the B.C. Wildfire Service.

The provincial agency says the fire is approximately four kilometres east of Cathedral Grove, a popular tourist attraction that is home to a collection of ancient Douglas fir trees.

The wildfire service and the B.C. Ministry of Transportation have not yet reached a determination on when Highway 4 may fully reopen, with officials saying they will rely on the recommendations of slope stability experts before reaching a decision. Top Stories


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