Avalanche control specialists are searching for an unexploded bomb off the South Klondike Highway.
Following an avalanche that blocked a portion of the highway near the B.C. border in early January, specialists lobbed three explosives from a helicopter on Jan. 11 to release snowpack in avalanche-prone areas. One didn’t explode.
Now the Yukon government is warning the public to stay clear of the search team.
“We don’t want lookie-loos,” said Ken Geddes, the territory’s acting director of transportation maintenance.
“The general public will be safe as long as they continue along their normal activities and not run around searching for this stuff. They could put themselves at risk by putting themselves in avalanche areas. We don’t need that.”
The bomb itself would be safe to handle, said Geddes. “It won’t self-detonate. We use safety-fuse assemblies on them. So, basically, it would be burned out at this point.”
But retrieving the snow bomb will be tricky enough, without having to worry about the safety of onlookers. It’s believed to be in a far-flung spot that requires climbing gear to get at, said Geddes.
The last time an avalanche explosive failed to detonate was in 2007. It wasn’t found until the spring, said Geddes. That time, the culprit was a misfired fuse.
“We’ve since upgraded our fuses to one-metre safety fuses, with a military-style detonator,” said Geddes. Once the bomb is retrieved, a similar analysis will be done on what went wrong to prevent future misfires.
The South Klondike Highway remains a moderate risk to avalanches, said Geddes.
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