Logs spilled onto the side of the road. A truck laying on its side. An ambulance speeding away from the site.
This was the scene when I arrived at Echo Lake Monday morning. It must be a scary feeling driving one of those big trucks and feeling it keel over onto its side. This is when you’re probably thankful for your seatbelt as it holds you in place, preventing forward (and perhaps, ‘sideward’) momentum from pitching you through the front windshield or, given the nature of the accident, trying to punch you through the roof of the cab.
We don’t have any report as to why the logs didn’t stay on the truck but it’s undoubtedly related to the hairpin turn the driver just negotiated. The logs shifted and carried the truck with it, busting free at some point and spilling onto the opposite side of the road while the truck landed on its side in the opposite lane.
It’s always amazed me that more noise has not been made about how tight a squeeze it is to get Highway 28 around Echo Lake. Considering you have ore trucks, logging trucks, buses and RVs of all descriptions barrelling through there, it’s a wonder there aren’t more accidents. It’s probably because the hairpin turns along the shoreline force you to slow down. It used to be tighter but some of the bigger trees – some approaching old growth size – were taken out years ago from the very edge of the blacktop.
How much longer that stretch of road can remain like that, I don’t know.
Unfortunately, as they always say, it’ll take some particularly tragic accident to get the highway realigned through there.
So, that kicked my day into full gear after the usual Monday morning humdrum of catching up on emails and the other logistical things you do at the beginning of the week.
Things got wilder later on in the day as a forest fire scorched the top of a hill not far from the logging truck rollover.
When I returned from lunch, Mirror reporter Mike Davies had already caught wind of the fire 15 kilometres west of Campbell River. He came back with a picture of the water bomber dropping fire retardant thanks to some accommodating residents of Lions View on Dogwood.
As the afternoon wore on, I began to get indications that the fire was continuing and I thought a better view of the burn could be had so I jumped in the car and headed out to Echo Lake again. Knowing there was a logging road that joined Highway 28 around there, I was sure I could get closer to the fire and get a good shot.
Now, there’s always an element of danger heading into a forest fire zone and I cautiously turned off the Gold River Highway and headed down Elk River Main. I stopped a few kilometres in and got a good view of the bomber dropping retardant but I was still on the west side of the ridge while the fire was just over the top on the east side.
Acting on a tip from a fellow fire chaser, I got a better view further along. I drove my trusty Toyota Corolla up a side road and got a great view across the valley of the firefighting action.
By this time the bomber had left the job to helicopters relaying water buckets to dump on the smoking woods while ground crews worked to bring the fire under the control.
By making the effort to get out there, I was rewarded with a good view of the fire. I shot some pictures and some video and judging by the response on social media, lots of people were also able to get a good view of a dramatic event.
This kind of coverage tells a number of stories but one of the most rewarding is we get to see the work our emergency service personnel do. By seeing the drama, albeit through the lens of a camera, we also get a sense of the power and impact of these incidents and consequently learn not to take them lightly. Too often we discuss tragedy and mayhem as though it was a T.V. show.
Sometimes a reporter’s camera makes it real.