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Emergency response delays due to CN crossing are unacceptable, say Edmonton neighborhood residents




Residents of Edmonton’s Maple Crest neighborhood are concerned that a lack of access to the community during an emergency could put their lives at risk.

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services were responding to a vehicle fire Tuesday night in the southeastern Edmonton community when fire trucks had to stop for a train.

“We could hear the sirens after about five or six minutes and then the sirens went out,” Cristina Jarvissaid said on Wednesday. “We stood there for a minute and thought, ‘What’ s going on? “and we realized there was a train.”

“There was nothing that [firefighters]we could do it, we just had to sit there and wait, and we were all just getting ready for an explosion. “

“It’s absolutely wild; we were so disappointed and so scared,” Jarvis said. “If this were someone’s house, if it was a medical emergency, seven minutes is a kind of life and death situation.”

At 6:40 a.m. Tuesday, aneighbour who noticed smoke coming from a vehicle, two houses down from Jarviscalled 911. The neighbor started knocking on nearby doors to alert residents.

In the meantime, the vehicle exploded in flames.

‘The flames were big’

“The flames were huge and you could hear the crackling and the smell was awful,” Jarvis said. “It was very scary.”

Firefighters can be heard approaching Maple Road, the main road to the neighborhood, she said.

But Maple Road is crossed by a series of CN railroad tracks.

“The emergency vehicle landed there for more than seven minutes waiting for the train to pass,” Jarvis said. “At this point there is nothing that emergency vehicles can do but wait.”

The neighborhood has a secondary access road, but it is an unpaved and unmaintained construction road, Jarvis said.

“This is the route they expect us to take in an emergency which adds a minimum of 15 minutes just to enter another major road,” she said.

Edmonton Fire Rescue admitted the crews were delayed by train, but only for “approximately three minutes, arriving at the residence at 6:53 p.m.”

In an email, spokeswoman Brittany Lewchuksa survived the fire was aware of the secondary access, but she did not explain why it was not used.

Entering the neighborhood has been a constant issue, Jarvistells CBC news.

“We built our house in 2013 and the builders promised us that there would be multiple exits and entrances to this neighborhood,” Jarvis said. “But a proper secondary road has never happened.”

Access is a concern, says the counselor

Residents have complained to their city councilor, Mo Banga and MLA Jasvir Deol without success.

“We got no response, nothing,” Jarvis said.

Residents in the community have a valid concern and lack of access as a legitimate security issue.

“If I lived in that area I would be worried too,” he said.

Hesaid assured that a secondary access was available and that CNand Edmonton Fire Rescuehad shared the contact information in case a train had to move fast.

He agrees that entering the middle second is not enough, but said improvements are the responsibility of the developer and are unlikely to happen until there is more development in the area.

“Until some developers come together with more construction in that area, this will not be done.”

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