London Fire says no one is hurt after five train cars caught fire travelling eastbound through downtown London, Ont. late Sunday night. 

Multiple crews were called to the area of Richmond Street and Pall Mall Street, a residential section of the downtown, at around 10:49 p.m. after numerous witnesses called 911.

The train was travelling on the tracks owned by the Canadian Pacific Rail line and was eventually brought to a halt in front of an office building and an apartment complex. Crews were able to disconnect the locomotives so firefighters could put out the fire.  

“There was exposure to a building closeby, but we were able to contain the fire away from the building,” said London Fire platoon chief Colin Shewell. “Additional crews arrived on scene, and within an hour, we were able to put a good knock down on the fire and really put it under control in about an hour and 20 minutes.”

CP Rail moved the cars to its rail yard on Quebec Street after fire crews cleared the scene. From there, firefighters continued to work to put out smoldering material. 

CBC News has requested comment from CP Rail and will update this story when someone is made available. 

The cars were carrying old railway wooden ties, with no dangerous goods involved, fire fighters said. The ties had been picked up from outside of London in the Strathroy area, said Shewell. Somewhere between Strathroy and London, they ignited, although it’s not yet known how. 

“We will treat everything as arson until proven otherwise,” said Shewell. “These were scrap railway ties, so there’s really no dollar value on them. They were actually destined to be destroyed.” 

The investigation is now in the hands of CP Rail’s own police oversight body, he said.

There were no dangerous goods on board the freight train when it caught fire, London Fire says.
There were no dangerous goods on board the freight train when it caught fire, London Fire says. (Sean Davidson/CBC)

Damage is estimated at $25,000 to rail cars and $10,000 to the office building used by Drewlo Holdings.  

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