Lake Megantic Quebec - Three men were found not guilty Friday at Sherbrooke in connection with the Lake Megantic train disaster in July 2013.
Here is a timeline of key moments related to the the derailment:
6 Jul 2013: An unattended train with five locomotives and more than 70 tank cars carrying crude oil rolls down an incline before coming off the tracks in Lake Megantic. The derailment causes a series of explosions that sends fireballs up into the air. The downtown core is eviscerated, with a bustling bar, the library, and a cherished waterside park among the dozens of structures destroyed. Officials evacuate nearby homes and say at least one person has died.
7 Jul 2013: Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits Lake Megantic, describing the area as a war zone and offering federal relief to rebuild the town. Police officially raise the death toll to five while estimating at least 40 people are still unaccounted for. Train operator Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) issues a statement saying the locomotive was shut down after the departure of the engineer and this may have resulted in the release of air brakes on the locomotive that was holding the train in place.
8 Jul 2013: The Federal Transportation Safety Board (TSB) and Quebec provincial police announce they will separately investigate the derailment. Firefighters from nearby Nantes say they had been called to fight a fire on board the train hours before it came off the tracks in Lake Megantic. The rail company suggests the decision to shut off the locomotive to put out the fire might have disabled the brakes, but the fire chief says shutting the engine off was standard procedure dictated by the railway. Officials raise the death toll to 13, while the Queen issues a statement expressing condolences.
9 Jul 2013: Quebec police announce they are treating the derailment site as a crime scene and float the possibility of laying criminal negligence charges. About 1,200 residents are allowed to return home.
10 Jul 2013: MMA chairman Edward Burkhardt visits Lake Megantic, where he is greeted by angry hecklers blaming him and his company for the disaster. He says the engineer in charge of the train has been suspended. Police raise the official death toll to 20, adding they expect a total of close to 50 victims. Quebec Premier Pauline Marois announces the province will lower all flags to half-mast for a week and says the government will offer the town $60 million in aid.
11 Jul 2013: Marois makes official visit to the town as her municipal counterpart lashes out at rail officials. Lake Megantic Mayor Colette Roy Laroche criticizes Burkhardt, alleging he cancelled a planned meeting with her during his visit to the town. About 600 evacuated residents are allowed to return home.
12 Jul 2013: The TSB describes the Lake Megantic disaster as potentially the worst in Canadian history, adding it will take months to investigate. Residents hold a candlelight vigil in town.
19 Jul 2013: The TSB takes the unusual step of recommending two immediate changes to rail safety despite the fact its investigation is not over. The board recommends that dangerous goods should not be left unattended on a main track and also that rail equipment be properly secured. Rock legend Paul McCartney reaches out to Lake Megantic residents by offering free tickets to an upcoming show in Quebec City.
22 Jul 2013: The federal government matches provincial aid efforts by announcing a $60 million fund to help Lake Megantic rebuild. In the United States, a wrongful-death lawsuit is filed in an Illinois court against MMA and its parent company, Burkhardt, and several U.S. petroleum companies linked to the disaster. An Illinois lawyer, who filed the court documents on behalf of the family of a Lake Megantic man killed by the derailment, says he expects to present many more similar suits that could seek millions in damages from the defendants.
23 Jul 2013: Transport Canada (TC) issues new safety directives that take effect immediately. The new rules state at least two crew members must work trains that carry dangerous goods. In addition, no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous materials can be left unattended on a main track.
25 Jul 2013: Police begin conducting an investigation at an MMA office in Farnham, Quebec, but decline to discuss details.
27 Jul 2013: Lake Megantic holds a memorial ceremony for the 47 victims of the disaster.
11 Sep 2013: The TSB says the crude oil that exploded into flames in the train derailment was as volatile as gasoline, but was documented as a less-dangerous product akin to diesel or bunker crude.
21 Nov 2013: Ottawa and Quebec announce they will split the estimated $190 milion price tag to decontaminate Lake Megantic.
13 Dec 2013: TC says it has obtained a warrant to search the offices of Irving Oil in Saint John, N.B., in connection with the tragedy.
18 Dec 2013: Rail service resumes in Lake Megantic under stricter safety conditions. On the same day, a U.S. judge gives the green light for the MMA railway to be auctioned off.
21 Jan 2014: MMA is sold in a closed-door auction for US$14.25 million. The purchaser is later revealed to be Railroad Acquisition Holdings, an affiliate of New York-based Fortress Investment Group.
23 Jan 2014: The TSB says Ottawa needs to take urgent action to pull outdated and unsafe rail cars from Canada's tracks, as well as reassess the safety of all potential routes used to transport dangerous goods.
13 Feb 2014: Survivors of the rail disaster announce they're expanding their class action lawsuit to include the federal government. The suit alleges Ottawa neglected to sanction the rail company after the disaster and continued to do business with them despite a dubious safety record.
23 Apr 2014: The federal government pledges to pull all old tank cars, known as DOT-111s, off Canada's rails over the next few years. The promise involves removing up to 5,000 of the cars from the tracks within a month.
12 May 2014: Prosecutors in Quebec lay 47 charges of criminal negligence causing death against the rail company and three of its employees. Driver Thomas Harding, rail traffic controller Richard Labrie, and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre are all charged.
19 Aug 2014: The TSB releases its final report, saying MMA had a weak safety culture and that TC did not audit the company often or thoroughly enough.
2 Oct 2017: The trial for Harding, Labrie, and Demaitre begins.
11 Jan 2018: Jurors begin deliberating.
19 Jan 2018: The three men are acquitted of all charges on the ninth day of jury deliberations.