CN pays US$1.25M to settle wildfire damage

by The Associated Press (APR)

Canadian National Railway has paid US$1.25 million to settle damage caused by a 2016 wildfire that burned national forest land in northeastern Minnesota, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The wildfire, known as the Skibo Fire, burned nearly 1,000 acres east of Hoyt Lakes in St. Louis County, including nearly 400 acres of national forest land.

The federal government alleged the May 2016 fire was ignited by a railroad locomotive that had mechanical failure. By the time the fire was suppressed, 387 acres had burned within Superior National Forest and another 585 acres belonging to St. Louis County and private landowners.

The government says the fire cost more than $1.5 million to suppress and forced the evacuation of several homes in the remote community of Skibo.

Under the settlement, CN and its subsidiary Wisconsin Central Ltd. have paid $1.25 million to resolve the dispute.

“This settlement goes a long way toward compensating the public for the expense of fighting the fire and the damage to public lands,” U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said Tuesday in a statement.

The settlement was paid to the U.S. Forest Service, the Star Tribune reported. The case was settled prior to the government filing suit, and there has been no determination of liability, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

CN declined comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday.