CN, CP Support Canadian Community Devastated by Wildfire

The village of Lytton in British Columbia has essentially burned to the ground due to a wildfire that reached the area on June 30. The town is located in a rail corridor that is used by CN and CP, and both Class I railroads suffered damage to their infrastructure because of the fire.

The CP line in the area was closed four days, and the CN line remains closed as of July 8. Both CP and CN are providing financial and logistical support to those displaced from the fire. CP has donated $1 million, and CN $1.5 million.

“The staggering damage of the wildfire on the village of Lytton and the nearby Lytton First Nation is devastating,” a CN spokesman said. CN staff have been on the ground, cooperating with investigators and assisting authorities, since the wildfire struck last week. They have offered electrical generators, refrigerated containers, electronic tablets, groceries, food and other necessities to residents sheltering in temporary accommodation.

CN President and CEO JJ Ruest

“The communities and First Nations along the CN network are our neighbors, and in Lytton, our neighbors are in crisis,” CN President and CEO JJ Ruest said. “Our employees are a part of these communities, and we will continue to be there helping rebuild and recover when this story has disappeared from news headlines. It’s going to be a big job.”

CP President and CEO Keith Creel said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this devastating fire, including the CP employees who lost their homes. So many lives have been impacted. We hope that this support will help the community and the team of responders as they begin to recover and rebuild.”

CP President and CEO Keith Creel

“I also encourage other companies across Canada to join us and donate funds or services to support the Village of Lytton and Lytton First Nation as they begin the work of rebuilding their lives and communities,” Creel added.

One of the challenges associated with this disruption is that traffic flow has slowed significantly, affecting the Port of Vancouver. CN said that “[i]ntermodal and carload traffic northbound and eastbound from Vancouver, as well as traffic inbound to Vancouver from east/north of Kamloops continues to be affected by this situation.”

Transport Canada issued a Ministerial Order as of 12:01 a.m. PDT on July 9, 2021, for a period of 48 hours, requiring:
• “Canadian National Railway (CN) to cease movement of trains except for emergency fire response, and maintenance and repair work on its Ashcroft subdivision between Kamloops and Boston Bar, British Columbia.”
• “Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) to cease movement of trains for emergency fire response, and maintenance and repair work on its Thompson Subdivision between Kamloops and Boston Bar, British Columbia.”

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra

“The Government of Canada is committed to supporting those affected by the devastating wildfires in British Columbia,” Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said. “This Ministerial Order is being put in place in the interest of safe railway operations and to protect residents who are temporarily returning to inspect their homes as safely as possible.”

“The B.C. wildfires have been devastating for so many communities and families,” Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller said. “At this critical juncture, it is imperative that we all listen to the voices of Indigenous leaders and engage meaningfully on a path forward that respects their needs and priorities, while ensuring rail safety and security.”

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