British Columbia

Fire in Seton Portage, B.C. damages town's railway bridge

Fire damaged a railway bridge Friday morning in Seton Portage, a rural community 25 kilometres west of Lillooet, B.C.

The bridge connects Seton by train with Lillooett which is a 1.5 hour drive away

This CN railway bridge in the rural community of Seton Portage, B.C. caught fire early Friday morning. (Ray Kowalchuck)

Fire damaged a railway bridge Friday morning in Seton Portage, a rural community 25 kilometres west of Lillooet, B.C.

Half of the steel bridge, which runs through the centre of town, was engulfed in flames by 6:00 A.M P.T, according to the local volunteer fire department.

The bridge, run by CN, connects Seton by train with the closest town, Lillooett. Residents will now have to drive to Lillooet, which is 1.5 hours away, until the bridge is repaired.

CN could not say how long bridge repairs might take. 

"The line is out of service at that location but rail service to customers along the corridor will continue using alternate routes," a CN spokesperson said in an emailed statement to CBC.

CN is investigating the cause of the fire. 

"We got a salmon-bearing and steelhead-bearing river that goes right under that bridge." (P Smith)

Fire officials say no other structures in the area were damaged by the fire.

"You got a bunch of creosote ties. They are all on fire, so you're probably looking at flames about six-feet high and smoke," said Frank Richings, the fire chief at the Seton Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

The firefighters could not immediately put out the fire when they arrived because of concerns about polluting the salmon bearing river below the bridge.

After consulting with the Ministry of the Environment, the fire department was able to start fighting the fire at about 7:30 A.M. PT.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but Richings says it does not appear to be arson.

The bridge is located on a waterway that connects Anderson and Seton Lakes.

With files from Brady Strachan