A fire that brought a wooden railway trestle bridge to the ground near Mayerthorpe is crippling for industry in the area, people in neighbouring communities say.
, president of ANC Transloading Inc., said the loss of the railway line will cause some delays.
“This is a very large inconvenience for us,”said. “We’re anticipating doing a fairly large job in May that may get delayed.”
ANC Transloading Inc. primarily focuses on translating material for the fracking industry in Fox Creek, but has recently expanded to transloading pipe for the new pipeline project from Fox Creek to Namao by Pembina Pipeline.
said while they did consider the possibility of the loss of the railway line, they didn’t expect such a dramatic event.
“The chances of what happened, happening, we thought were very remote,” he said, adding that the hazardous nature of fracking chemicals mean it’s not easy to have a backup plan.
“There is track in downtown Whitecourt but do we want to store acid and methanol there? Likely no.”
After five fires in the last 10 days, RCMP are looking to the public for answers.
Mayerthorpe RCMP and CN Rail are still investigating the cause of the fire and have yet to find any leads so far, but Cpl. Grant Kneller said it is being treated as an arson investigation.
“It definitely is a suspicious fire. This is the fifth fire that RCMP in Mayerthorpe have been called to in the last 10 days,” Kneller said.
“We’re looking for anyone that might have witnessed something. The cause of the fire is still unknown.”
Kneller said RCMP and CN Rail are working with the province to look into any causes of fire, including a mechanical failure on the train.
“We are going to investigate every avenue and every possible source to confirm or deny that source,” he said.
While the entire forestry industry in Woodlands County is dealing with the setback, county mayor Jim Rennie said this isn’t the first time the community has suffered a loss of railway use.
“The local mills have been through this before,” Rennie said. “About four years ago we had another trestle near Whitecourt burn down.”
Rennie said in working with CN Rail, the priority to get the rail line is very high and they anticipate rebuilding within two weeks.
“They have reiterated that this is one very important line that CN has because of the industry on it,” Rennie said. “They’re putting all the resources into rebuilding it.”