Asked if the railways should be pressured to clean up tall grasses and discarded materials that have been spotted downtown, Mayor Ken Christian said the city is working with the companies.
“We work with them in terms of vegetation control and noxious weed control, but right now, I think that is an excellent point because a spark from a train could really set something off,” he said.
Christian noted a right of way through Dallas and Valleyview as particularly vulnerable.
His comments come in wake of a Transport Canada order requiring railway companies to do more to prevent and report fires.
There have been reports that the June 30 fire that destroyed Lytton may have originated from a passing train, though that investigation continues.
Transport Canada has enacted measures on railway operations between Kamloops and Boston Bar and between Kamloops and North Bend.
When operating when the fire danger level in the area is rated “extreme”, CN and CP must have a 60-minute response time to any fires detected along the right of way or notify the fire service responsible for the area if the fire cannot be controlled without assistance.
In addition, train conductors must be responsible for spotting for fires and reporting any fires or smoldering areas along the route.
The railway companies must also ensure any vegetation-control measures are followed by removal of combustible materials, while CN and CP must ensure at least 10 fire detection patrols are conducted on the route every 24 hours unless a train has not operated on the relevant route for a period of at least three hours.
CN and CP must also consult with Indigenous governments or other Indigenous governing bodies located along the routes to incorporate considerations of Indigenous knowledge related to the presence of fire hazards, fire risk and control of fires into the preparation of fire hazard reduction plans and the fire preparedness plans required under the prevention and control of fires on line works regulations.
In addition, class 1 railways (Canada’s largest railways) must have their trains’ speed reduced when the temperature hits 30 C and the fire danger level for the area is classified as “extreme.”
Class 1 railways must complete and implement a final extreme weather fire risk mitigation plan within 60 days following the issuance of the order, the date of which was July 10.