Canadian railway CN is keeping an eye on the wildfires occurring across several provinces and it is adjusting operations as needed, the railway told FreightWaves Wednesday. 

According to Natural Resources Canada, opportunities for intense wildfires are high in both eastern and western Canada. Meanwhile, Reuters reported Monday that Canadian officials are bracing for a potentially destructive fire season amid warm and dry weather. 

Concerns about this summer come as news reports have noted that ongoing, fierce wildfires in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec have resulted in poor air quality across portions of eastern Canada, the U.S. Midwest and mid-Atlantic.

“CN is monitoring the current wildfire situation along our network. We are making real-time adjustments to operations based on the latest information available on both the winds and wildfires in the different areas. We are in contact with our customers regarding any impacts to their shipments,” CN (NYSE: CNI) said in a statement to FreightWaves.

“Above all, we are focused on ensuring the safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate. CN would like to thank all emergency responders for their continued work and support across the country.”

A map indicating fire intensity serves “as a general index of fire danger throughout the forested areas of Canada.” (Source: Natural Resources Canada, Government of Canada)

Wildfires or the imminent threat of them might cause shippers to temporarily consider other alternatives to moving goods, according to John Schmitter, chief commercial officer for RailState, a technology provider for rail car visibility.

RailState recently published a blog post on the impact that May wildfires in the Canadian province of Alberta had on freight rail volumes.

“Depending on the commodities, shippers might hold shipments until things are safer or prioritize shipments to locations where the route is not impacted by fire. Intermodal shippers could divert from CN to [Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC)] or vice versa if one railway is impacted more than the other or use truck,” Schmitter told FreightWaves. “Shippers of forest products might use trucks to the most impacted lanes. Our customers use the data that RailState provides on current conditions on each route to help inform these decisions.”

According to British Columbia’s government website, wildfires occurring within the province are generally caused by lightning about 60% of the time and by human activity about 40% of the time.

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Related links:

Wildfire crews battling blazes — and supply chain kinks

Northern California wildfires damage BNSF’s rail infrastructure

Wildfires halt Union Pacific, BNSF trains in Northern California

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