Summerland rockslide: Crews prepare to blast with dynamite

Click to play video 'Highway 97 rockslide near Summerland, B.C.' Highway 97 rockslide near Summerland, B.C.
A rockslide that occurred Saturday morning has closed part of Highway 97 in the Okanagan. The closure is near Summerland.

A rockslide along Highway 97 has cut off traffic between the Central Okanagan and the South Okanagan, and officials don’t know when traffic will once again be flowing between the two regions.

According to the Ministry of Transportation, the rockslide partially covered the highway near Summerland at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday. The highway, though, was still open to traffic, with one lane operating in each direction.

But two hours later, at 7:45 a.m., a second slide occurred, this time blocking all four lanes and completely closing the highway.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Rockslide closes portion of Highway 97 in Okanagan

Witnessing the rockslide was Dean Pratley, who was parked in line when it happened.

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“And all of a sudden, it just started going,” said Pratley. “The fence, the chain-link stuff that they have over it, just ripped apart and stuff started flying.

“And from then, it basically just came right down in huge chunks; like way bigger than my van.”

The ministry says a detour route is available by using Highways 97C, 5A, 3 and 3A.

There was no word as to when Highway 97 will reopen. In a tweet, MLA Dan Ashton of Penticton said the closure was expected to be possibly 24 hours.

DriveBC is reporting that rock scalers are on site, preparing for blasting.

Also, RCMP told Global News that crews have permission to blast at night.