The Transportation Safety Board has found no evidence that railway operations were involved in a fire that left the community of Lytton in rubble over the summer.
On Thursday morning (Oct. 14), the independent agency responsible for transportation safety released findings into its investigation of a possible relation between train activities and the June 30 blaze that followed record-shattering heat, killing two people and burning down a majority of structures in downtown Lytton.
A press conference is expected to follow.
“The TSB has conducted significant investigative work to determine if there was a definitive connection between railway operations through Lytton, BC and the fire that destroyed the town on 30 June 2021,” the report states.
“The TSB investigation has not identified any link between railway operations and the fire.
According to the TSB, the investigation was significant and found that a westbound Canadian Pacific coal train consisting of 157 cars, operated by CN, was the last train through Lytton prior to the first report of the fire. It was travelling 40 kilometres per hour and passed through the suspected fire origin area at 4:30 p.m., about 18 minutes before the fire was reported. The TSB said neither CN nor CP reported any occurrence to the TSB, nor were they aware of any when asked.
The investigation also involved inspection of the train, locomotive recorders and coal-like material from the scene. No anomalies were noted and the material collected had “little in common” with substance collected from a locomotive exhaust stack and rail grinder vehicle.
Load testing was also conducted on three locomotives from the train.
“During this test, the diesel engine is cycled up to maximum operating RPM while the locomotive is stationary and output horsepower is measured,” the report states. “No sparking was noted during the load testing of either of the three locomotives. Exhaust stacks of the locomotives were also inspected and found to be clear of carbon build up.”
The TSB attempted to obtain satellite imaging of the area. but it was not available.
The TSB said further investigation is not warranted unless new information becomes available.
The fire is under investigation by the BC Wildfire Service and and RCMP is conducting a preliminary inquiry to determine need for a parallel criminal investigation, according to the TSB.