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Cause of Lytton, B.C. wildfire suspected to be human, but investigation not yet complete

Click to play video: 'RCMP take lead in investigation into deadly Lytton fire' RCMP take lead in investigation into deadly Lytton fire
The RCMP have taken the lead in the investigation into the fire that devastated the town of Lytton and killed at least two people. Aaron McArthur has the latest, including word that officials are calling it a 'probable' human-caused fire – Jul 5, 2021

Wildfire officials said Monday the Lytton wildfire, which burned about 90 per cent of the village last week and killed two people, is suspected to have been human-caused.

Jean Strong, a B.C. Wildfire Service information officer, told Global News that the fire is now an estimated 7,700 hectares, which was reduced in size due to more accurate mapping.

Click to play video: 'Many B.C. residents on notice to evacuate as wildfires near' Many B.C. residents on notice to evacuate as wildfires near
Many B.C. residents on notice to evacuate as wildfires near – Jul 5, 2021

The George Road wildfire is also no longer included in the size of the Lytton fire, Strong explained.

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She said the RCMP are leading the investigation into the cause of the wildfire, with support from the B.C. Wildfire Service.

“At this time it is suspected to be human-caused but that won’t be able to be confirmed until the investigation is completed.”

The possibility that a passing train may have sparked the blaze is facing growing scrutiny.

Read more: B.C. firefighters help comfort, feed animals left behind after devastating Lytton wildfire

Click to play video: 'Witnesses point to possible cause of Lytton wildfire' Witnesses point to possible cause of Lytton wildfire
Witnesses point to possible cause of Lytton wildfire – Jul 5, 2021

Read more: Lytton wildfire: Witnesses recount train fires in area before village burned

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The Lytton First Nation and Thompson-Nicola Regional District have both suggested the possibility, and at least one eyewitness has told Global News they saw a train braking in the community not long before the fire.

On Sunday, two more witnesses came forward with accounts of trains in flames the same day fire swept into the community.

The BC Wildfire Service and other investigating agencies have not speculated on the potential cause of the destructive fire.

The Lytton wildfire remains classified as out of control and it is not yet known when residents will be able to get back in to see the full destruction left by the fire.

“Currently we have 42 firefighters on that scene, along with eight helicopters, four pieces of heavy equipment, as well as one of our incident management teams and a structural protection unit,” Strong said.

Click to play video: 'Lytton wildfire: Witness account of burning train at Boston Bar' Lytton wildfire: Witness account of burning train at Boston Bar
Lytton wildfire: Witness account of burning train at Boston Bar – Jul 3, 2021

Read more: Cause of Lytton, B.C., wildfire not yet known, resident saw train brake then smoke rise

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She added that on Sunday crews saw the fire jump the west side of the Fraser River so one of their goals for Monday is to stop the spread of that fire.

Crews and helicopters have also been focusing their efforts on the northwest side by Highway 12 and the northeast side by Highway 1.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District is co-ordinating a bus tour for Lytton residents who wish to survey the damage, but a date has not been set while the risk remains high.

“It’s still not safe to go through that area,” Debbie Sell, information officer for the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s emergency operations centre, said.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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