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CN assessing damage to rail line in wildfire-hit South Slave

Fuel railcars sit idle at the end of the line in Hay River in August 2019
Fuel railcars sit idle at the end of the line in Hay River in August 2019. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio


CN says it is assessing the extent and severity of wildfire damage to its rail line between northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

The railway connecting southern Canada to Hay River is a key transportation link for the delivery of fuel and other goods to the North.

“It’s a huge impact on our community and the valley,” Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson said during a Tuesday press conference.

Jameson said she plans to speak with CN further about the impacts and how long repairs may take.



Burgundy Diamond Mines, Rio Tinto and De Beers said in a statement that all three diamond mines in the NWT were closely monitoring the situation. It said they were also working with fuel suppliers and industry partners to understand the potential shipping impacts.

“CN is actively engaged with customers to help protect supply chains and ensure goods continue to flow to communities,” the company told Cabin Radio in a statement. “We would like to thank all the emergency responders for their ongoing efforts.”

NWT wildfire information officer Mike Westwick said the territory was working with CN to facilitate safe access so workers can assess the damage and complete repairs.

The line has been hit by multiple disasters in recent years.

In May 2019, northern Alberta’s 360-foot Steen River rail bridge burned in a fire. The NWT government said at the time Imperial Oil would cover the cost of trucking fuel to some northern communities while the bridge was repaired, and there would be no impact on prices.

In May 2022, railbed on the line was washed out by flooding south of Indian Cabins, Alberta.