Ontario government sues railroad company for starting four fires

Timmins 9 Fire, May 2012
The Timmins 9 Fire burned about 20,000 hectares (98,000 acres) in May, 2012.

From CBCnews:

The province [of Ontario] is seeking compensation from Canadian National Railway over four forest fires in 2012, including $38 million for a massive fire near Timmins.

The province is alleging the fires were started by passing trains. The other three court actions involve another fires near Timmins, Chapleau and Thunder Bay. The damages sought in those cases are between $1 million and $2 million each.

The $38 million court action involves a fire called Timmins 9 in May of 2012.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry alleges the fire was started by the passage of a train through the area. The fire burned 40,000 hectares (98,000 acres) of bush and destroyed several camps.

The fire was the largest one in the province in half a century, and came within about 20 kilometers of the City of Timmins…

Documents filed in the case regarding the Timmins 9 Fire include the following:

14  The Ministry investigators also determined that the point of origin of the fire was within the railway right-of-way and approximately 2 1/2 metres from the western most rail at mileage 96.48.

16. At the point of origin, the investigators found a metal fragment whose particular characteristics indicated it had been heated and had been exposed to the elements for a short time.

17. Metal fragments are a competent source of ignition and may be released due to inter alia treading or wear or buildup from railway operations. This particular metal fragment, recently deposited, was a result of the railway operations of the defendant CNR.

The documents also accuse the railroad of failing to:

  • properly maintain, repair, and inspect the tracks and right-of-way;
  • properly maintain, repair, and inspect its railway cars, engines, and equipment including brake assembly and exhaust systems;
  • manage vegetation through controlled burns or other means;
  • provide a sufficient number of stations on its routes and personnel on the trains to detect and suppress fires;
  • control or extinguish the fire and failed to limit its spread beyond its property.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+