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Fire destroys Inuvik ambulance base, investigation of cause underway

A fire broke out at the Inuvik ambulance base shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday Jan. 20. No crews were on site at the time of the fire, according to Sean Ivens, president and CEO of Advanced Medical Solutions Inc. (AMS), the company that operates ambulances in Inuvik.

Photo courtesy of Tim May, paramedic at Advanced Medical Solutions Inc.
The fire at the Inuvik ambulance base blazing around 1:30 a.m. Saturday Jan. 20.

Twenty-two firefighters arrived on the scene around 1:30 a.m. and fought the fire until 10 a.m, said Jonathon Michel, acting fire chief of the Inuvik Fire department.


“At [10 a.m.] there were still a few hot spots, so we barricaded off the area and had a fire watch set up, just for public safety more than anything, and to prevent any spread,” Michel said. “Given that we were there for nine hours, it was quite a long haul for our crew, so the fire watch was an effective safety measure to ensure that the fire we got under control remained within control.”


Michel said the building design posed some challenges for the crew.


“It was apparent to us that given how fast the fire spread from one side of the building to the other, that the design of the fire breaks, based off of construction codes, were not doing what they were supposed to do,” Michel said. “Our strategy was to get ahead of that just to contain the amount of damage that the fire can do based off of our training and experience, however the fire spread quite rapidly.”


Ivens said the ambulance building is “a total loss,” along with one ambulance and all of the inventory that was stored in the building. He estimated the total cost of the damages at $300,000.


AMS has a secondary storage facility in Inuvik, Ivens said, so ambulance supply inventory was re-stocked immediately and there was no interruption in emergency services in Inuvik. Ambulances continue to run as usual.


“We have contingency plans in place to ensure that there is never a gap in service,” Ivens said.


Michel said the cause of the fire is unknown, but it is under investigation.