Train that sparked wildfires a worry for Spences Bridge

'I intend to focus on proactive measures of how to prevent these fires in the first place'

Residents of Spences Bridge are taking their railway safety grievances to local and corporate officials but it remains to be seen if they'll be heard.

The breaking point for the community was Aug. 11 when a derailed train rolled six kilometres from Spences Bridge to Gold Pan Provincial Park allegedly sparking three wildfires along the way.

One family was forced to fight back the flames before they engulfed its farm. The structures survived but an entire orchard was lost.

"It's a real concern we're living," said Dwayne Rourke.

Rourke will be moderating a public meeting next Tuesday with an invitation list that includes the area MP, MLA, a Thompson Nicola Regional District official, First Nations chiefs, fire chiefs, CN and CP rail representatives and even Senator Nancy Greene Raine.

So far none has confirmed attendance.

"I just got regrets from CP," said Rourke. "I've asked them if they could explain why they can't possibly send one representative."

There's a glimmer of hope that CN will show up since a staffer has asked for more specifics over the roundtable's agenda.

And Raine's office said it was trying to fit the event into her schedule.

Spences Bridge is known for its raucous meetings, said Rourke. But he intends to keep the blaming to a minimum and focus on solutions.

"I know it's a hot issue. But I intend to focus on proactive measures of how to prevent these fires in the first place."

Locals have a few suggestions such as regularly soaking the ground alongside tracks during peak fire season.

The meeting takes place at Spences Bridge Community Centre at 7 p.m.

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