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Ottawa orders 2-day shutdown of rail service around Lytton wildfires

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: Rail networks pledge funds, reuniting pets, Napier Lake and Canim Lake update' B.C. wildfires: Rail networks pledge funds, reuniting pets, Napier Lake and Canim Lake update
WATCH: B.C. wildfires: Rail networks pledge funds, reuniting pets, Napier Lake and Canim Lake update – Jul 8, 2021

Canada on Friday ordered trains to cease operations for 48 hours in areas of British Columbia hit by a recent spate of wildfires, including one that wiped out an entire town and killed two people, the transport ministry said in a statement.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra issued the order “in the interest of safe railway operations, and to protect public safety for the temporary return of residents to inspect their homes in Lytton, British Columbia,” the statement said.

Click to play video: 'Lytton wildfire evacuees want more help and clarity from government' Lytton wildfire evacuees want more help and clarity from government
Lytton wildfire evacuees want more help and clarity from government – Jul 8, 2021

Residents were due to return to Lytton on Friday to see what was left after a fire ravaged the town last week. The blaze started after a heat wave in which Lytton broke Canada’s more than 80-year-old heat record with a 49.6-degree Celsius (121.3-degree Fahrenheit) temperature.

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There are currently 210 wildfires burning in B.C., an increase of 26 from two days ago, according to official data.

The order, which took effect on Friday, will affect lines used by both the Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway, according to the statement.

Read more: Fire along train tracks in B.C.’s East Kootenay region prompts evacuation

Shipments of goods in and out of the Port of Vancouver have been delayed after wildfires damaged railway tracks.

Canadian miner Teck Resources Ltd on Tuesday estimated third-quarter steelmaking coal sales would be reduced by 300,000 to 500,000 tonnes due to rail service disruption in B.C.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer Editing by Gareth Jones and Jonathan Oatis)

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