Skip to content

CN Rail 'evaluating' status of train traffic through tinder-dry B.C. Interior after devastating Lytton fire

CN might halt train traffic
Flames destroyed structures throughout Lytton on June 30, 2021.

CN Rail is “evaluating” the status of its train traffic through the bone-dry B.C. Interior after a fast-moving fire on Wednesday destroyed much of the Village of Lytton — a blaze thought to have been sparked by a passing train.

The fire in Lytton is believed to have began at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Based on accounts from those in the village at the time, it moved quickly. Some estimates on Thursday have said as much as 90 per cent of the village was burned.

Global BC is reporting investigators believe the fire was sparked by a passing train, citing sources at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

Castanet reached out to both major Canadian railways, each of which run through Lytton, for comment and asked whether any thought is being given to stopping trains until conditions in the Interior improve.

“Pertaining to the impact on our operation, we are evaluating this, but our focus now being the safety and support of the community,” CN spokesman Mathieu Gaudreault said in a statement.

According to Gaudreault, CN finds the Lytton blaze “deeply distressing” and very concerning.

“We have reached out to local elected officials to offer our assistance,” he said.

“We want to offer our support to the people of the First Nation of Lytton and we are committed in assisting this community during this tragic event.”

A CP Rail spokesman was less forthcoming.

"Our focus is on assisting emergency response operations in the town of Lytton," Andy Cummings told Castanet via email, failing to acknowledge the question about train traffic in extreme conditions.

"As for the speculation you’re hearing on the cause of the fire, I encourage you to contact the BC Wildfire Service."

Last summer, CN was ordered to pay more than $16 million in fines for its part in a 2,200-hectare fire near Lytton in 2015.

The Cisco Road fire burned for months south of the village and forced a number of evacuations. Investigators ultimately ruled the blaze was sparked by workers cutting a rail line.