Lytton First Nation’s acting chief takes aim at CN Rail for lack of communication following fire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lytton First Nation’s acting chief takes aim at CN Rail for lack of communication following fire

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July 03, 2021 - 4:10 PM

Lytton First Nation’s acting chief is taking aim at CN Rail for its lack of communication after a fire devastated the community this week.

The Village of Lytton was almost completely destroyed by fire June 30 and B.C. Wildfire Service says the blaze has grown since Friday night to 83 square kilometres in size. New mapping highlighted the spread of the fire.

“What really concerns me right now is different organizations, like CN, is right next to my community and in IR 24, we still have a standing gas station on that reserve and there was a huge structure fire to that bridge that crosses the Thompson River. I actually am hoping CN will stay out of there and not try to repair their bridge until this fire is completely out. We want them to be off-site as well and we want communication with them," said acting chief John Haugen, with the Lytton First Nation during a public meeting with the Thompson Nicola Regional District, the B.C. Wildfire Service and area politicians.

“The destruction that we have to live with is not insurmountable that we want to be involved in how we return to living in our community and CN is someone that has to be accountable to what’s going forward with any work they do to remediate that bridge and we want to be involved."

The B.C. Wildfire Service also provided an update on the Kamloops Fire Centre’s four largest wildfires called wildfires of note, today, July 3, during the meeting.

Kaitlin Baskerville, fire centre manager, said the centre is seeing weather conditions not normally seen until mid-August with the heat and lack of precipitation.

The centre is pulling resources from other areas of the prince and national requests for assistance with the federal government and military have been made, she said.

The Kamloops Fire Centre has responded to more than 170 fire starts within the last four days, she said.

The McKay Creek wildfire, located 23 kilometres north of Lillooet, is 23,000 hectares in size but did not see any growth overnight, and aviation and ground resources are working to suppress the fire and establish a perimeter around it, she said.

The Durant Lake wildfire “is looking pretty good in our eyes,” Baskerville said. The fire is still 450 hectares in size and out of control. It’s located roughly 28 km southwest of Kamloops. It’s suspected to be caused by lightning and there is air support in place that continues to work in place.

“We’re seeing some downward reduction in the size of that fire already,” she said.

Sparks Lake Wildfire, northwest of Kamloops, incident commander Dennis Rexin said the fire is still larger than 30,000 hectares.

The service is prioritizing structure protection and trying to establish anchor points to work from safety, Rexin said.

There are more than 30 pieces of equipment working the east, west and southern flanks of the fire, he said.

The southern end of the fire is still showing decent wildfire activity so the service is working to secure lines there, he said.

For the large Lytton and George Road fires, wildfire incident commander Mark Healey said firefighters are working with structure protection groups to mitigate impacts to fire responders and prevent the spread of the fire north of Spences Bridge and from crossing the Fraser River.

"We're also working on critical infrastructure communication links and well as the rail lines need to be repaired and we are also working really hard with outlying communities, local First Nations, to minimize impacts as the fire continues to spread both up the Highway 1 corridor and Highway 12 corridor," he said.

The cause of the Lytton fire is still under investigation.

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