Mounties say their investigation into the devastating fire that destroyed most of the village of Lytton, B.C., two years ago remains “active and ongoing.”
Staff Sgt. Kris Clark of the B.C. RCMP says officers don’t have a timeline for when their probe into possible criminality might be complete, and are mindful of other investigations around regulatory compliance and the cause of the fire.
A state of local emergency was declared by the village on June 30, 2021, after B.C.’s sweltering heat dome triggered a wildfire that killed two people and burned homes, businesses and local infrastructure.
The state of emergency was only lifted this June with local officials suggesting people could start rebuilding in a few months, though it remains unclear how many will decide to return.
In a joint statement, Premier David Eby and Minister of Emergency Management Bowinn Ma say the devastation caused by the wildfire profoundly affected the Nlaka’pamux Nation, the village of Lytton and the greater Thompson-Nicola Regional District.
They say debris removal, environmental remediation and archeology requirements have been completed, including the protection of Nlaka’pamux heritage resources.
“The Village of Lytton is transitioning from recovery to rebuilding and has lifted the state of local emergency. Hydro, water and sewage water infrastructure are being repaired and the boil-water advisory has been lifted. The village has established an office within the community and local events are resuming,” they say.
“We know that people are eager to return to their community and there is much to be hopeful about.”
The Village of Lytton and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District are suing Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways and Transport Canada, alleging they were negligent to let trains pass through the town during the heat dome. The district says the claim was brought on its behalf by its insurer, the Municipal Insurance Association of B.C.
The notice of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on June 16 says a train passed through the village 18 minutes before the first report of a fire near the tracks that eventually destroyed 90 per cent of the town’s buildings.
A Transportation Safety Board report released in October 2021 did not find evidence that railway operations sparked the Lytton wildfire.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2023.