UPDATE: 9:54 p.m.
CN Rail said statements provided to CBC saying their train did not cause the Lytton fire was only in reference to one witness video, which captured a train surrounded by smoke.
In an email to Castanet, spokesperson Mathieu Gadreault said CN investigated the video in question — which had been circulating on social media — and had concluded it was taken at a location away from Lytton.
“The statement provided by CN was only in reference to a video taken in Boston Bar 45 kilometres away from Lytton,” Gadreault said.
“The smoke seen in the video comes from a different fire that was already burning.”
CN said the occurrence was not reported to the Transportation Safety Bureau as the train shown in the video did not cause or sustain a fire.
Gadreault said CN’s operations staff identified that the train in the video had started its journey in Prince Rupert and was bound for Vancouver.
CN said they determined the video was recorded on June 30, at 3:23 p.m. in Boston Bar.
According to Gadreault, the train passed uneventfully through Lytton at 1:27 p.m., “hours before the wildfire that destroyed Lytton was first reported.”
“At the moment the video was taken, the train was stationary, near a fire already burning on an embankment in Boston Bar. A subsequent inspection, carried out by CN after the train arrived in Vancouver, confirmed that a tarpaulin covering some of the train’s cargo had melted, but that at no time was the train or its cargo ablaze.”
ORIGINAL: 7:30 p.m.
CN Rail says its train did not cause the fire that tore through Lytton last week, according to statements made to CBC.
On Twitter, Dave Seglins, investigative journalist, quoted CN as telling CBC that despite eyewitness video footage captured of a burning train car near the town, “the company isn’t required to report it to [the Transportation Safety Board of Canada] as the train did not ‘cause or sustain’ the fire.”
In a Sunday news briefing, Dawn Roberts, director for BC RCMP Communications, said their investigation into the cause of the fire that destroyed most of the Village of Lytton is still in the early stages.
“The RCMP is working with BC Wildfire Service to try and determine the cause and origin of the fire,” Roberts said.
“The investigation is a priority and remains active and ongoing.”
Roberts said investigators have connected with CN and CP, and railway officials indicated they would support and assist where possible. However, Roberts said she could not confirm if rail crew members had been interviewed yet.
In an earlier statement to Castanet, Mathiew Gaudreault, a spokesperson for CN, said the company is focused on helping in any way it can in the aftermath of the Lytton fire.
“We have reached out to local elected officials to offer our assistance,” Gaudreault 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.”
Last summer, CN was ordered to pay over $16 million in fines for its part in the 2015 Cisco Road wildfire near Lytton.
Sparks from rail cutting sparked a grass fire, which got out of control and led the evacuations of a First Nations community and an evacuation alert in Lytton.
The Cisco Road wildfire burned nearly 2,400 hectares of land.
Castanet has reached out to CN for comment.
@CNRailway says its train did not cause the fire that decimated #LyttonBC— dave seglins (@cbcdaveseglins) July 7, 2021
CN tells @CBCNews that despite video of a burning train near the town, the company isn't required to report it to the @TSBCanada because, the train did not “cause or sustain” the fire. @cbcnewsbc pic.twitter.com/Zx5fGaq3pC