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Locals and visitors on Vancouver Island’s west coast may breathe a sigh of relief as the British Columbia government says a key stretch of highway is fully reopening after nearly three months of full and partial closures set in motion by a wildfire.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming says the reopening of Highway 4 east of Port Alberni, B.C., is welcome news, as the damage caused by the Cameron Bluffs fire followed by necessary repairs has been disruptive to everyone in the region.

The route that connects communities including Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet to the rest of the island is set to reopen to two lanes of traffic at 5 p.m. Thursday, ahead of the Labour Day long weekend.

It was first closed on June 6 as firefighters battled the blaze and opened to single-lane alternating traffic, often with long lines and wait times, later that month.

The route was then closed periodically due to high winds that posed a safety hazard and to allow crews to complete rock scaling, debris removal, and the installation of barrier and catchment fencing ahead of the full reopening.

A statement from the province says crews removed 250 dangerous trees and 1,000 tonnes of rock debris in order to stabilize the bluffs above the highway.

Josie Osborne, the member of the B.C. legislature for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, says it had been a challenging summer for people and businesses.

“We’re also excited to welcome visitors for late summer and fall – one of the most beautiful times of the year to visit the Alberni Valley and the west coast.”

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