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Lytton residents, businesses sue over 2021 wildfire as B.C. village sues insurer

CP Rail and CN rail sued by residents and businesses days after suit filed by small B.C. community
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The B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver | Rob Kruyt, BIV

A range of claimants that include residents and businesses residing in the Village of Lytton filed suit late last week against a host of organizations in response to a devastating wildfire that burned more than 90 per cent of the small B.C. community and killed two people in 2021. 

More than 100 individuals and businesses filed a lawsuit naming two rail companies as well various other firms and government agencies, including both the federal and B.C. attorneys general, Transport Canada and the Ministry of Forests.

The Village of Lytton also filed a lawsuit the same day (June 23) as its residents, taking aim at the Municipal Insurance Agency of British Columbia. This comes after the village and the surrounding district filed suit against CP Railway Ltd. and CN Railway (TSX:CNR) on June 16.

Both lawsuits against the rail companies claim the defendants were responsible for allowing a train to pass through the village during record-high temperatures in June 2021. The suit filed by businesses and individuals alleges the wildfire in question was caused by either the heat, sparks and diesel exhaust particulate or some combination thereof generated by the train. 

These lawsuits are seeking damages for not only the loss of property, but the loss of business and rental income as well as insurance deductibles, reconstruction costs and the cost of alternative accommodations. 

Both the rail companies and the various government agencies are being sued for negligence and breaching their duty of care. The suit filed by the municipality against the Municipal Insurance Agency of British Columbia claims that while the agency has paid for some of the debris removal and some of the content destroyed in the municipality‚Äôs museum, it has not fulfilled its obligations. The village of Lytton claims that under its policy, the insurer is responsible to cover the outstanding debris removal work, the loss of rental or lease income, and extra expenses incurred in carrying out its operations at alternative locations. 

The allegations have not been proven in court and the defendants have not filed a response as of press time.