RCMP and CP police begin joint investigation into fiery train crash

Coquitlam RCMP said there are no 'obvious indicators of criminality,' after a train collided with a tanker truck at a Port Coquitlam rail yard Monday night.

'So far there are none of those obvious indicators of criminality,' according to RCMP

Flames shoot up into the sky after a train collided with a truck hauling ethanol. (Shane MacKichan/Canadian Press)

Investigators are looking into what caused a CP Rail train to collide with a tanker truck in Port Coquitlam Monday night, sparking a large blaze and prompting the evacuation of several nearby homes and businesses.

"So far there are none of those obvious indicators of criminality, nothing like impairment or gross negligence," said Cpl. Michael McLaughlin with Coquitlam RCMP.

"We look at everything involving video ... possible witnesses, possible mechanical failures."

In a statement, Canadian Pacific confirmed there were no injuries and they are working closely with local police to determine the cause of the crash.

CP Police block off a section of the rail yard as investigators work at the scene. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

'We know exactly what's passing through'

Port Coquitlam Fire Chief Nick Delmonico said that although the investigation has been handed over to federal authorities, his department works closely with the railway on a regular basis.

"We don't know what's in the yard at any point and time, but we know exactly what's passing through on a regular basis. So yeah, we have a pretty good idea," he said.

He said while there were no toxic chemicals onboard the train, the risk of additional explosions was still high, prompting the evacuation of several residences.

"There are other cars around it with other fuels as well ... it's not extremely toxic, but it is fairly explosive," he said.

Delmonico said his department works closely with CP Rail on disaster response protocols on a regular basis. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Residences evacuated

Laura de Groot lives less than one kilometre away from the yard.

She was at home when police came to her door around 9:45 p.m. and told her she needed to leave immediately.

De Groot said although she was prepared with an earthquake kit, the worst part for her was being told she had to leave her beloved housecats — Baby Girl, Tubbs and Princess — behind.

"I had chest pains ... I was just beside myself, leaving the animals," said De Groot. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

"I said, we have three cats and they said, 'you have to leave them,'" she said, tearing up. "Leaving animals is the worst thing ... and I was so upset."

Fire crews got the blaze under control around 10 p.m. Monday and continued to monitor it overnight. Residents were allowed to return to their homes shortly after.

A massive fire erupted in a Port Coquitlam, B.C., train yard in the centre of town Monday night. 0:45

With files from Meera Bains