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Train sparks fires

A freight train sparked three small brush fires in Silverdale, and two ones while travelling through Maple Ridge on Monday.

Sparks from the locomotive's chimney ignited tinder dry grass along the Canadian Pacific railway tracks around 1:30 p.m., according to a witness who reported the fires. The fires in Mission were easily put out with a fire extinguisher, said Assistant Fire Chief Larry Watkinson.

The fire department in Maple Ridge shut down the tracks while crews fought the fires in two different locations off Lougheed Highway, between 256th and 270th streets.

"We got multiple calls about the fires," said Maple Ridge Fire Chief Dane Spence.

The fire at 270th St. spread quickly, moving up hill towards the highway. Spence said embers even blew across the highway.

Crews from three fire halls were called in to fight the fires and took more than four hours to put out hotspots.

Since there are no hydrants along the train tracks, pumper trucks were used to ferry water to both sites.

The train reportedly sparked three more fires in Mission, but Spence was unable to confirm that.

Ed Greenberg, with CP Rail, said the incident is under investigation.

"CP will be working with local fire authorities to determine what started the fires," he added.

The last train that travelled through the area was stopped and inspected by CP Rail after the fires were reported but inspectors found nothing out of the ordinary.

Fire officials are asking residents to be cautious as several weeks of sunshine and dry weather have parched brush, increasing fire risks.

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