A Canadian Pacific freight train travels on tracks covered with fire retardant in an area burned by a wildfire above the Thompson River near Lytton, B.C., on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Lawsuit claims CN and CP railways at fault for sparking fire that wiped out B.C. town

Lawsuit claims CN and CP railways at fault for sparking fire that wiped out B.C. town

VANCOUVER — A proposed class-action lawsuit alleges Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways caused or contributed to the wildfire that destroyed the Village of Lytton, B.C.

The B.C. Supreme Court statement of claim alleges the fire was set off by heat or sparks emanating from a CP freight train operated by CN employees on tracks owned by CN.

It says the fire started at about 4:15 p.m. on June 30, where the CN bridge crosses the Fraser River, and winds of up to 70 km/h carried the fire into Lytton, burning the town in less than two hours.

The RCMP, BC Wildfire Service and Transportation Safety Board are still investigating the cause of the fire, and neither CN or CP immediately returned a request for comment.

While court approval is needed for a class-action lawsuit, the court documents say the representative plaintiff lost her home and the graphic design company she operated out of the property in Lytton.

With temperatures nearing 50 C, the lawsuit alleges the railway companies should have know conditions were unsafe to operate and that they failed to protect the town.

The suit asks for damages to cover losses for property, housing, business income and pain and suffering.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press