A Canadian community, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National are dealing with a mess.
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 both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, and both roads suffered damage to their infrastructure due to the fire.
The CP line in the area was closed four days, and the CN line remains closed as of today. 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.
A CN spokesman said “The staggering damage of the wildfire on the village of Lytton and the nearby Lytton First Nation is devastating.” 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.
JJ Ruest, President and CEO of CN, said “The communities and First Nations along the CN network are our neighbours, and in Lytton, our neighbours are in crisis. 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.”
Keith Creel, President and CEO of CP, 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.”
Creel said “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.”
One of the challenges associated with this disruption is that traffic flow has slowed significantly, affecting the Port of Vancouver. CN said that “Intermodal 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.”