The early, disastrous start to the summer fire season has increased concerns of fire safety in communities that are near train tracks, forests and other risks.
And on Richmond Drive, sections of the CN Rail tracks have caused at least a few flare ups over the past two years.
Barbara Saundry lives opposite the tracks, and says it’s been going on for years. And people in her rural, forested neighbourhood – on a dead-end street – are feeling more at risk following the Lytton fire.
“It has frightened us even more,” she says. “We have a mountain behind us and it’s a cul-de-sac, how are we supposed to get out?”
The reason they feel at risk is that the sections involving crossings in their area still have wooden ties. Several of those ties are burned black at the edges from past fires. Saundry says she’s called CN for answers, but has not had any return calls.
The Standard also sent a request to CN to discuss potential removal of the wood, but has not received a reply.
Hope Fire Chief Tom DeSorcy says that in many other areas of the tracks, old ties have been replaced with a concrete substitute.
“People need to be aware that this is common problem that has been going on for a long time and it has taken a disaster and loss of life to bring it to the forefront,” Saundry says. Two people are confirmed to have died in the Lytton fire.
“We have been lucky thus far, as both fires have taken place during the day, but what if it starts at 1 a.m. when everyone is asleep?” she asks.
On July 21, just days after Saundry notified The Standard of her concerns, a fire started up along the CN line just a kilometre north of Richmond Drive. It’s unclear as of yet what started that fire.
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