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Mystery solved: blasting behind Mount Benson causes huge booms heard across Nanaimo region

Parksville, BC, Canada / 88.5 The Beach
Mystery solved: blasting behind Mount Benson causes huge booms heard across Nanaimo region

NANAIMO — No aliens. No Russian spy planes. No secret military ops.

It turns out a series of loud booms heard from south Nanaimo all the way to the Sunshine Coast has a simple and frankly boring explanation: it was crews blasting out a new logging road on the back side of Mount Benson.

A contractor, who did not wish to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media, contacted NanaimoNewsNOW Wednesday afternoon.

“We heard it this morning on the radio and we thought ‘Hey someone else is blasting too and all of Nanaimo heard it,'” he said. “Then I looked at the online story and it says the blast went off just before 11:30 Tuesday morning. And I thought, ‘Oh boy, I hit the button at exactly that time.'”

He confirmed another blast heard across the region on Wednesday morning at 9:52 was also his work.

“Tuesday we were doing a huge blast, three shots at once for a ditch line. The sound can really carry depending on the conditions in the atmosphere. Also the shape of the slope and valley we were working in obviously shot the sound out.”

The blasting, ongoing since last Friday, is happening on privately-owned forestry land on the back side of the mountain. The head blaster said he turns off the Inland Island Hwy. at Northwest Bay Logging Rd. and heads about 40 minutes into the bush to access the work site.

He said people have nothing to be concerned about and all precautions and procedures are followed to ensure the area is clear before the blasts are triggered. He also said they can only work before 11 a.m. due to fire restrictions and always monitor the site with a two-hour fire watch after every explosion.

Tuesday morning’s boom sparked a viral reaction online, with people as far away as the Sunshine Coast trying to figure out what caused the commotion.

Laurel Patten was among a group of people at the peak of Mount Benson at the time of that blast.

She said it appeared to come from the edge of a previously clear cut area off the back side of the mountain.

“We were just standing there looking at the view and we heard that low rumble and then the loud bang. To me it sounded like blasting. Then the dust clouds came up,” Patten told NanaimoNewsNOW on Wednesday.

She said it was loud, unexpected and quite scary.

“I did let out a little scream and we all kind of jumped. Everybody sort of jumped and then looked around and laughed.”

Patten said she couldn’t believe the reaction that followed, saying there was no doubt in her mind it was blasting.

“Some people didn’t believe me. They were like ‘There’s no way you could hear that all the way in Nanoose.’ If the conditions are right, stranger things have happened. People say ‘It’s a meteor or a space ship,’ and I laugh.”

The head blaster said people can expect to hear one more notable shot before 11 a.m. on Thursday and then they should be done in the area for a while.


Dominic Abassi