by The Chicago Times Staff

July 11, 2021

OTTAWA — After a blaze destroyed the town of Lytton, British Columbia, and killed two people earlier this month, Canada imposed rail transportation restrictions in areas where there is a high wildfire risk.

According to a statement from the Transport Ministry, the order will require both Canadian National Railway Co and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd to take precautions against wildfires, including reducing train speeds.

On Friday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra issued a 48-hour rail halt in parts of British Columbia.  The new restrictions went into effect on Sunday morning and will be in effect until October 31st.

According to Alghabra, the order “will put in place interim measures while the department works with railway companies to incorporate these fire risk reduction measures on a permanent basis.

CP said it would follow the directive, while CN said it would continue to operate according to strict protocols and regulations.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) announced on Friday that teams of investigators would be dispatched to determine whether freight trains were to blame for two fires, including the one that ravaged Lytton.

According to official data, there are 297 wildfires burning in British Columbia, an increase of 97 in just two days.

Trains will have to run at reduced speeds across the country when there is a high risk of fire and the outside temperature is high.  In addition, CN and CP will be required to develop a fire risk mitigation plan and consult with indigenous communities regarding fire hazards.