South Klondike Highway reopened

A series of  avalanches forced the closure of a portion of the South Klondike Highway last week, stranding some Yukon travelers in Alaska for…

A series of  avalanches forced the closure of a portion of the South Klondike Highway last week, stranding some Yukon travelers in Alaska for nearly six days.

The highway, which connects the Yukon to Skagway, Alaska, reopened to traffic on Wednesday morning.

It was closed on December 29 after government experts predicted hazardous snow slides.

“The road closed to safeguard the public,” said Yukon’s transportation maintenance branch director Don Hobbis.

Normally, after such a road closure, workers would fly into the area and blast potential avalanches out of the way, but the weather grounded aircraft.

However, while the road was closed, the avalanches occurred naturally.

Three slides fell on the road at kilometre 58.1, kilometre 79.5 and kilometre 81.4 — areas adjacent to Windy Arm and Tutshi Lake.

“One of the avalanches that came down left a deposit on the highway that was 10-metres high and 90-metres long,” said Hobbis.

“It traveled across the highway and removed the cement guardrail and its impact on the ice at Windy Arm broke out an area in excess of an acre.”

Hobbis estimated the avalanche reached speeds of 250 kilometres per hour, or more.

There are four avalanche zones on the South Klondike Highway, and within those zones there are 45 identified avalanche paths.

“We have a very intensive avalanche-control program and we monitor all of these sites on a regular basis,” said Hobbis.

Experts keep an eye on weather forecasts and look for potential hazards in snow piles, like weaknesses or crystallization in the structure.

The number of times the highway is closed varies greatly from year to year, Hobbis added. (LC)

CRIME

Barefoot fugitive

found downtown

After less than one hour of freedom, a fugitive who gave his Whitehorse Correctional Centre guard the slip was back behind bars.

Calvin Roger Pavey, 33, was scheduled to appear in Yukon territorial court on Wednesday, but escaped from the courthouse at approximately 9:50 a.m wearing grey sweat pants and no shoes.

Thanks to a phone tip from a member of the public, Pavey was found and arrested without incident at a residence in the industrial area.

He was back in police custody less than one hour later, said RCMP Cpl. Grant MacDonald on Wednesday.

On December 5th, Pavey was charged with five instances of break, enter and theft from five local businesses.

He was a prisoner of Whitehorse Correctional Centre and was under guard when he escaped.

He was not considered a threat to the public.

Pavey is currently being held at the RCMP Whitehorse detachment.

He may face further charges when the RCMP completes its investigation. (LC)

Suspicious New Year’s Eve fire hits Marsh Lake

Vandals and arsonists held their own destructive New Year’s Eve celebration at the Marsh Lake garbage dump.

A new building used to store recycled items was burned to the ground in a blaze the RCMP is calling “suspicious.”

Vandals also broke in to the administrative office and ransacked its interior.

On further investigation, it was determined that the fire was sparked during the early hours of January 1.

Police are asking anyone who noticed any suspicious activity at the dump on the evening of December 31 or the morning of January 1 to contact the Whitehorse detachment at 667-5571 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (LC)