Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

RAIL CAR SET ABLAZE – A city firefighter applies water to the Red Line train on the Whitehorse waterfront early Tuesday morning.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

The powered rail car is shown in charred condition after daylight that morning.

Rail car was deliberately set on fire, officials say

Tuesday’s early-morning fire that heavily damaged a railway car along the Whitehorse waterfront is believed to be a case of arson.

By Whitehorse Star on November 24, 2021

Rewrite - Tuesday’s early-morning fire that heavily damaged a railway car along the Whitehorse waterfront is believed to be a case of arson.

A social media post from the Whitehorse Fire Department stated, “At approximately 1 a.m. (Tuesday), fire crews were dispatched to a ‘shed fire’ at Front and Wood streets.

“Upon arrival, firefighters discovered that the ‘shed’ was actually the trolley car located on the tracks to the north side of the station.

“There was heavy smoke and fire venting from the trolley car upon arrival.”

The Red Line, as it’s known as, is not to be confused with the antique yellow and white trolley that took passengers back and forth along the waterfront between 2000 and 2018.

“The (red) car was fully involved and firefighters attacked the fire and achieved knock down fairly quickly,” the fire department said.

“Crews continued with operations, including interior attack and search.”

Nothing was found inside.

The scene was secured until the fire investigation could commence later Tuesday.

Fire chief Jason Everitt said at mid-day Tuesday he had no further details about the blaze.

Whitehorse RCMP adddressed the fire on Tuesday afternoon.

“At around 1:05 a.m., a witness in the area alerted police and fire to the burning trolley car,” police said.

“Thanks to the quick response from the Whitehorse Fire Department, the flames did not spread to any other nearby structures. There were no reported injuries.

“Police and fire investigators have reason to believe that the fire was intentionally set,” the RCMP added.

RCMP Forensic Identification Services personnel are involved with the investigation as well.

Investigators are appealing to any witnesses who may have seen something before or after the fire started, and to businesses with surveillance cameras in the area.

Anyone with information about the fire is encouraged to contact police or, to remain anonymous, contact Crimestoppers at 667-6715.

According to sources at the MacBride Museum, the self-propelled Red Line is a replica of an earlier model, and dates back to the late 1990s.

In 2005, the Yukon government bought the Red Line rail bus from the White Pass and Yukon Route.

The Red Line was built by Beartown Mechanical Design in Durango, Colorado.

The Red Line used to run in between Fraser and Bennett, B.C. It carried hikers to and from the Chilkoot Trail. The Red Line is a unique model with it being the only one of its design ever made.

The Red Line was made with a 435 HP Diesel Caterpillar Inc. Model 3406 engine. The name Red Line comes from a line of the White Pass which carried supplies between the White Pass and Carcross from 1898 to 1901. (This is info from one of the members of Yukon History and Abandoned Places.) There has been no trolley service along the waterfront since 2018.

The historic yellow and white trolley car, brought here from Washington state after having seen service in Portugal, was purchased by Piers McDonald’s NDP government, and operated in Whitehorse from 2000 to 2018.

In 2019, then-Highways and Public Works minister Richard Mostyn said his government would not continue funding the trolley, operated by the MacBride Museum, saying it was not financially viable.

He said the government had put $5.4 million into the annual operation and maintenance of the trolley and capital investments required to maintain the track and the Roundhouse along Front Street.

He added the annual operating cost itself had been $107,000 per season for the previous several years, including 2018, when it only operated half-time and ran from the Roundhouse to Rotary Peace Park.

Comments (6)

Up 9 Down 0

Crunch on Nov 25, 2021 at 8:11 pm

Sadly the next victim will be the boat and we don't have many of them left.

Up 10 Down 9

North_of_60 on Nov 24, 2021 at 10:35 pm

It was irresponsible for the museum not to store the railbus inside the engine house.

Up 7 Down 5

drum on Nov 24, 2021 at 5:57 pm

The Shelter is always open!!!! What do you mean the Salvation Army is no longer open!!!!!!!!

Up 17 Down 2

bonanzajoe on Nov 24, 2021 at 4:55 pm

Dave: whether it was deliberate or accidental, it is still a crime. But we know the code of those who commit those kinds of crimes. Good luck with solving this one. Another crime for the cold case files.

Up 14 Down 64

Dave on Nov 24, 2021 at 2:48 pm

Well, it gets pretty cold down by the river at night now. What with Sally Ann closed down and everything. A little fire really helps keep you warm too. Maybe not arson, just trying to keep warm. Maybe a bit early to call them criminals eh?

Up 68 Down 16

Done on Nov 24, 2021 at 2:43 pm

A direct result of passive policing. Drive or walk (if you dare) by that spot any day of the week and witness the hive of activity. Day drinking, drugs and sex and the occasional fight. All out in the open for anyone to see.

I’ve given up on caring about this city and it’s inhabitants.

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