EDITORIAL – Why can’t investigators work together on Lytton fire report?

Crossing near origin of Lytton wildfire. (Image: CP Rail)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE UNHAPPY with the Transportation Safety Board’s report on the cause of the wildfire that destroyed Lytton last summer.

Three and a half months after the fire, the report concluded there was no evidence railway operations were the cause.

The TSB says even though the fire started close to tracks, it could find no indication of any activity or mechanical issues that connect the fire to freight-train traffic.

Questions are being raised about the thoroughness of the investigation, including the fact the TSB relied on interviews with residents by police instead of doing its own.

One wonders if criticisms of the report’s methodology might be quite different if it had concluded that the fire was, indeed, caused by sparks from a passing train. Nevertheless, residents certainly have a right to challenge it and raise questions.

After all, they remain without homes to go to and it’s natural that they’re anxious to know what caused such heartbreaking loss.

According to the TSB, if new evidence should happen to be revealed, its investigation could be reopened. Otherwise, it’s done.

Which leaves two other investigations — one by RCMP and one by the BC Wildfire Service — upon which to hang hopes for a definitive answer or, perhaps, a different one. When those investigations will be completed is unclear.

Here’s a question from someone — namely me — who is sometimes flummoxed by what government bureaucracies do and why they do it: why could one investigation not be done by all three agencies in co-ordination with each other?

One of the complaints about the TSB report, for example, is that TSB personnel aren’t experts in fire behaviour. The B.C. Wildfire Service is.

So, rather than just working “closely” together, what if the TSB, Wildfire Service and RCMP undertook one joint investigation and filed one comprehensive report? Wouldn’t that make more sense than three different reports with potentially different conclusions?

Just asking.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9378 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Why can’t investigators work together on Lytton fire report?

  1. Which report will note the train photographed as material on the cars was burning?
    It appears a railway bridge was damaged by what was possibly a fire (is that political spin?) so in whose report will that be documented?
    Who examined the train that had been photographed when material on the cars was burning? The fellow from the TSB noted that when he examined a particular train, “nothing jumped out at him”.

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