An early morning structure fire destroyed at least two buildings and damaged several more on Wolverine Road in Inuvik Aug. 29.
Around 3:00 a.m., the Inuvik Fire Department received multiple calls of a structure fire on the road. Residences on both sides of the fire were smoking when firefighters arrived. RCMP evacuated the neighbourhood as there was significant risk of the fire spreading to other buildings.
The heat of the blaze melted cable lines and damaged a transformer, knocking out power and telecommunications. The occupants of the engulfed home were able to escape the blaze and received medical attention for burns and smoke inhalation.
In total, 14 fire fighters and six vehicles were deployed to stop the blaze. They were joined not only by police but also Municipal Enforcement, NWT Power Corp, Inuvik Gas, Public Works and Advanced Medical Solutions. The first responders were brought food and drink throughout the night.
It took until 5:34 a.m. to get the fire under control, with two homes destroyed, the wall of one adjacent building badly burnt and the roof of a second adjacent building was also damaged. It took an additional eight hours to fully extinguish the smouldering fires, overhaul the rubble and restore utilities to the neighbourhood.
Two notices were issued in the morning asking residents to stay clear of the area as crews cleaned up debris and demolished the remains of the destroyed structure.
According to the fire department, several individuals sought medical attention from burns and smoke inhalation. Acting Inuvik RCMP detachment commander Cpl. Paul Howlett said one woman had to be airlifted to an Edmonton Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and burn injuries, but no other major injuries have been reported.
The cause of the fire has not been determined and is under investigation.
Community support has been outpouring for the residents who lost their homes. Inuvik-Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler posted on her Facebook page that anyone affected by the fire should reach out to her and she would see what she could do to help.
“In addition to the families affected, the fire has pushed out two elders from their home,” reads a GoFundMe set up by Erin Sydney. “They will need funds for accommodation and living expenses for the next little while until they can get back on their feet.”
The restaurant Alestine’s announced they would provide dinners for the victims of the fires after receiving an anonymous donation and the Town of Inuvik is donating all profits from its upcoming Fall Fair drive in movie to the families affected.
Five GoFundMe pages have been set up by relatives and friends of the families who lost everything in the fire have been set up so people can help them rebuild their lives.
“In the early morning of August 29th Alison, Tony, Emerson and Elina lost their home, vehicles and all worldly belongings in a house fire. Thankfully, they all made it out of their home safely. Things can be replaced, people can not,” reads one page started by Sherri Lennie. “We are asking our community to come together for the family, to help raise money for them on their new journey after this tragic fire.
“The money will be used to replace everything and anything they need.”
Follow these links to donate to the people who lost their homes.
Alison, Tony, Emerson and Elina Stefure/Lennie
David Jorstead and Martha Ruben
Roberta Dillon and her boyfriend Marlon