Update on the investigations related to the Lytton fire

Lytton, B.C.

2021-07-12 13:00 PDT

Information update

Investigations into the fire that impacted the Village of Lytton and neighbouring Indigenous communities on June 30, 2021 are progressing and multiple agencies are involved based on their individual mandates. The investigations are focused on various aspects including determining the cause and origin, assessing if there is possible criminality, and looking at compliance or regulatory impacts.

BC RCMP and BC Wildfire Service investigators have completed a fulsome search of two areas of interest related to the possible origin of the fire. One was a 1 km radius area near Lytton and the other was a 2 km radius area near Boston Bar. Physical and digital forensic evidence has been collected with the assistance of the BC Wildfire Service and the RCMP Forensic Search and Evidence Recovery Team. Several witnesses have also been interviewed.

Investigators are focussing on a parking lot and park area at the end of River Drive towards the south end of the Village of Lytton. This area provides access to a foot and rail bridge that crosses the Fraser River. The investigation is looking at all movements and actions of any individuals, vehicle traffic and a southbound freight train that were all in the area around 4:30 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service is actively supporting the RCMP in their investigation. The BC Wildfire Service has a highly experienced team of fire origin and cause specialists and their role is to conduct wildfire cause determinations, following internationally recognized scientific standards and protocols. As specialists, they have been trained to examine fire behaviour; fire ignition sources; fire ignition factors; burn patterns and other physical evidence. An assessment of these factors helps determine where a wildfire started and identify the probable cause of that fire. During this investigation we appreciate the patience demonstrated by those impacted, it is critical that this process is afforded due diligence. – Kurtis Isfeld, Deputy Director of Provincial Operations

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has deployed an investigator who is currently gathering information and assessing the potential involvement of a freight train. This is a separate safety investigation that will be conducted in parallel to that of the RCMP.

With respect to the two confirmed fatalities, the RCMP continues to work with BC Coroners Service who are conducting independent investigations to determine the circumstances of the deaths. There are also no other known or reported fatalities related to the Lytton fire.

The BC RCMP can also confirm that we have followed up on more than 15 possible missing person reports over the past 11 days, and all have been resolved; the individuals were located and are safe. The RCMP is aware of the possibility that there could be someone still left unaccounted for and therefore if you have not been able to find your loved one, please call or attend your local or nearest RCMP detachment to report the individual as missing.

We have heard the concerns of those impacted and understand the importance of having answers around how and why the fire started. While significant progress has been made in the past 12 days by the dedicated investigators and agencies assigned to this case, the exact cause has not yet been determined. There are still a number of ongoing tasks and forensic analysis that needs to be completed. This incident remains a priority investigation for all involved. - Assistant Commissioner Eric Stubbs, BC RCMP Criminal Operations Officer – Core Policing

If you were a witness to this incident and have not already spoken with police, or you have video or other evidence please call the BC RCMP Tip line at 1-877-987-8477.

(Please note: Questions about the mandate or the nature of the actions taken by the BC Wildfire Service, BC Coroners Service or the Transportation Safety Board should be directed to those specific agencies)

Released by:

Dawn Roberts
Director in charge - BC RCMP Communications

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