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Rail transportation safety investigation R21V0144

The TSB has completed this investigation. The report was published on 24 August 2023.

Table of contents

Locomotive engine fire

Canadian Pacific Railway Company
Freight train 880-066
Mile 54.3, Cranbrook Subdivision
Elko, British Columbia

View final report

The occurrence

On , Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) train 880-066 was travelling eastward on the Cranbrook Subdivision near Caithness, British Columbia, when its mid-train distributed power locomotive sustained a mechanical failure that resulted in flames emanating from the exhaust stack. Due to the remote position of the locomotive in the train consist, the situation went undetected until the condition was observed by the crew of an opposing CP train (V09-012) during a meet at the siding in Elko, British Columbia, about 5 miles east of Caithness.

It is likely that hot embers were emitted from the exhaust stack on the damaged locomotive, ignited vegetation, and caused a trackside fire near Caithness. The fire was reported by a member of the public, grew to 1.2 hectares, and was extinguished by the local volunteer fire department, with the help of BC Wildfire Service. The track in the area was not damaged.

There were no dangerous goods involved in this occurrence, and no one was injured.

Safety communications


Safety concern: Monitoring for fires on locomotives operating in a remote position in a train consist

Media materials

News releases


TSB issues safety concern after 2021 locomotive fire and trackside fire near Elko, British Columbia
Read the news release

Deployment notice


TSB deploys team to the site of a train fire in Sparwood, British Columbia

Calgary, Alberta, 9 July 2021 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators following a fire involving a Canadian Pacific Railway freight train near Sparwood, British Columbia. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.

Investigation information

Map showing the location of the occurrence


Photo of Don Crawford

Don Crawford has many years of national and international railway experience. In his early career, he was a locomotive engineer with Canadian National (CN) Railway on its British Columbia North Corridor and Vancouver based territories and with BC Rail on the former BC Rail property. In addition, Mr. Crawford has experience in training and supervisory roles and was a staff member at CN's Gimli, Manitoba training facility. Internationally, Mr. Crawford worked in Kosovo after the 1998/99 war as part of the United Nations Peace Keeping effort helping to restore rail service to the country. Most recently, Mr. Crawford worked in Saudi Arabia as a locomotive instructor.

Class of investigation

This is a class 3 investigation. These investigations analyze a small number of safety issues, and may result in recommendations. Class 3 investigations are generally completed within 450 days. For more information, see the Policy on Occurrence Classification.

TSB investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.