2 victims of the deadly Lytton wildfire are trying to get their lawsuit certified as a class action
Two victims of a wildfire that devastated much of Lytton, BC in the summer of 2021 are arguing in court that their lawsuit should be certified as a class action.
The chief justice of the BC Supreme Court will decide whether the case, originally filed in October 2021 by two residents who lost their homes, has broader scope.
Two people died when flames ripped through Fraser Canyon on June 30, 2021, the hottest day of the year in Canada.
When the wildfire was contained two months later, more than 800 square kilometers in and around the village had been destroyed.
Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada found no evidence that sparks from a passing train caused the fire, but the lawsuit alleges the fire was caused by a CN or CP train passing through the village.
Alternatively, it also claims that the fire was caused by a failure to manage risks in British Columbia’s fire-prone areas.
The BC Wildfire Service and RCMP investigation continue.
RCMP Cpl. Madonna Saunderson issued a statement confirming the investigation is “active and ongoing.”
Victims seek compensation from CP, CN Rail
This week, BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson will hear from attorneys representing Jordan Spinks and Chris O’Connor.
They claim the fire could have been prevented and are seeking financial compensation from CP Rail, CN Rail, the Attorney General of Canada and a number of other organizations.
In March of last year, the law firm of Slater Vecchio was granted permission to pursue the case as a class action with O’Connor and Spinks as lead plaintiffs.
If approved, dozens more fire victims could be added to the lawsuit, which will be heard later.
Tricia Thorpe, a farmer who lost many animals and her home when flames swept through the village of Fraser Canyon in the summer of 2021, sat in the courtroom listening to attorneys representing Spinks and O’Connor, who argued in favor of a class action certification.
“The fire spread to Spences Bridge, up Highway 8, destroying homes and people losing livestock. I wanted to be in the courtroom because of the lack of information and lack of transparency,” Thorpe said Daybreak of Kamloops Hostess Shelley Joyce.
It’s not part of the original lawsuit for monetary damages, but Thorpe said she hopes this week’s hearing has a positive outcome.
“I want someone to be held accountable. The loss of my animals was devastating. I hope someone is held accountable. Changes are being made at the federal or provincial level that would help ensure this never happens again.” he said to Thorpe.
Thorpe now serves on the Thompson-Nicola Regional Board as Director for the Lytton area. She was elected in October 2022.
Thorpe clarified that she spoke to CBC as a victim of the fire and not as a TNRD representative.
The Hinkson class action certification hearing is scheduled to last until Friday, February 10.