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Safety board releasing results of Lytton wildfire investigation

Report looking at the possibility a freight train sparked blaze that destroyed town released Oct. 14
Wildfire in Lytton, B.C., seen on June 30, 2021. (@guyatsfu/Twitter)

The Transportation Safety Board will release the results of its investigation into the possibility that a freight train might have started a wildfire that destroyed the community of Lytton, B.C.

The board says it will hold a news conference Thursday after the publication of its report with the results of the investigation.

The fire raced through the town on June 30, days after a record-setting heat at the end of June.

Two people were killed and few buildings were left standing after the fire.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimated the wildfire caused about $78 million in insured damage.

The safety board said days after the fire that it sent rail investigators to the scene after receiving information about its possible cause from the RCMP and BC Wildfire Service.

A proposed class-action lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in August alleges the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways caused or contributed to the wildfire, although neither company has filed a statement of defence in the case.

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

CN issued a statement on July 6 saying it had investigated video footage posted on social media suggesting a train had 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.”

Canadian Pacific has declined to comment on the civil claim, but has noted previous statements saying the fire remains under investigation and any conclusions or speculation about its cause or contributing factors are premature.

The company said in July that it inspected all CP trains that travelled through Lytton during the relevant time period on June 30 and based on its review, which included video footage, it found “nothing to indicate that any of CP’s trains or equipment that passed through Lytton caused or contributed to the fire.”

—The Canadian Press

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