CN Rail responds to social media video

Picture of a CN train

Canadian National Railway says an investigation into a social media video that claims to show a train on fire in the area of Lytton, B.C. has determined the train in question had passed through Lytton hours before and showed no signs of damage.

“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,” the company said in a statement. “In fact, the video shows a train 45 kilometers south of Lytton, and the smoke seen in the video comes from a different fire that was already burning.”

The statement went on to say the train in the video passed through Lytton “uneventfully” hours before the fire.

Still, the statement is doing little to ease fears among locals who say rail service should be paused.

Chief Matt Pasco, the Lytton-based chairman of the Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council, told CTV News Channel trains often cause fires in the region.

“I'm not going to speak on what caused the (latest) fire, but I can say there are a lot of fires in the canyon caused by rail service,” he said. “A lot.”

In a video shot by Brandon Flaig’s family outside of Lytton, you can hear family members gasping that a train is on fire. The video shows smoke and a train.

Canadian Pacific Railway says it resumed operations Monday.

“The safety of the public and our employees is our priority,” the company said in a statement. “We are implementing appropriate measures, such as increased inspections of our tracks and equipment, during this period of extreme weather.”

We don’t yet know the cause of the fire that destroyed the village of roughly 300. Two people are dead, and most homes are now just piles of rubble. The RCMP says the investigation is active and ongoing.

The fire was sparked during extremely hot and dry conditions in British Columbia. Deborah Harford, the Executive Director of the Adaptation to Climate Change team at Simon Fraser University says with global warming comes the risk of longer and hotter summers.

“Our dry conditions are going to keep getting worse if we keep increasing our emissions,” she told CTV News.

She’s calling on governments to review potential fire risks due to increased carbon emissions and come up with a plan to mitigate them. Harford said the work must be done fast, and include a plan to reduce emissions.

Harford said rail service will be an important part of the plan to reduce carbon and it’s possible to reduce the risk by dealing with vegetation management along rail lines, educating personnel, cleaning the railway tracks and improving training.

Her team advises governments on how to adapt to climate change and she said three priorities are a must.

“We have to ask ourselves three questions: How's it going to reduce our risk? How is it going to reduce our emissions? And how's it going to benefit our other community priorities, like health, and like social justice, for instance?”

As of Wednesday afternoon, 201 fires are burning across the province and firefighters from New Brunswick and Quebec are now on the front lines. To date, wildfires have cost the province about $95 million.

On Friday, the Thomson-Nicola Regional District will allow residents of Lytton to tour the destroyed village. 

- with files from CTV -