Both Canadian Pacific (CP) and Canadian National (CN) railways have been named as defendants in a lawsuit that alleges the two caused or contributed to the recent wildfire that devastated Lytton, BC.
A BC Supreme Court statement of claim alleged that the wildfire was caused by heat or sparks that came from a CP freight train operated by CN employees, and on tracks owned by CN. The complaint stated that the fire began sometime around 04:15 pm on June 30, in an area where the CN bridge crosses the Fraser River. It also claimed that strong 70 km/h winds carried the flames into Lytton, which destroyed the village in less than two hours.
The lawsuit claimed that both CP and CN should have known that the dry and hot conditions meant that it was unsafe to operate, and that the two companies failed to protect the town.
“The Province of British Columbia notified the defendants of extreme risk of wildfires, which was the highest possible rating according to the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System,” the lawsuit said.
The Globe and Mail reported that the cause of the fire is still being investigated by the BC Wildfire Service, RCMP, and the Transportation Safety Board.
The news outlet also reached out to both CP and CN for a statement on the lawsuit. CN acknowledged that it had received the action. It then later issued another statement in response to a video on social media which claims that a train caused the Lytton fire.
“After examining the evidence, CN has concluded the video does not show a train in or near Lytton at the time of the fire in the village. In fact, the video shows a train 45 kilometres south of Lytton, and the smoke seen in the video comes from a different fire that was already burning.”
Meanwhile, CP did not return a request for comment.
According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Lytton wildfire caused an estimated $78 million in insured damage. It was also noted that some 300 claims were filed related to the incident – most of which were for residential properties.