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Rankin Inlet fire chief warns of dry conditions following dangerous blazes

Rankin Inlet's fire chief is warning residents to be careful when using anything flammable — especially cigarettes — after the department had to put out two dangerous blazes in the span of a week.

The Rankin Inlet dump was aglow with fire in July, but the blaze was successfully brought under control by the department.
photo courtesy of RIFD

The first fire took place at the dump. Fire Chief Mark Wyatt said in a statement on July 20 RIFD responded to a rapidly expanding fire at the dump with nine firefighters.

In addition to the fire crews, support was also provided by the hamlet which sent a water truck and a bulldozer to help extinguish the blaze.

A quick response and a good strategic attack made the difference in preventing this fire from getting out of control,” reads the statement.

The cause of the fire remains unknown. However, Wyatt warned residents to be extremely cautious when visiting the dump due to dry conditions.

We haven't had much rain this summer and everything is pretty dry. The dump is highly flammable right now and any ignition source is a risk,” he said. “If you are foraging at the dump, please do not smoke up there. If you have to smoke, please don't just toss your butts, make sure they are properly put out.”

This tundra fire burned outside of Rankin on July 29. The community's fire chief believes it was started by a cigarette.
photo courtesy of RIFD

The second fire ignited on the tundra on July 29 and required the department to travel several hours over land in order to extinguish it.

The RIFD had to use a side-by-side equipped to fight fire, which was purchased just last year.

By the time we got out towards the elders cabin we could already see it in the distance.”

When they arrived at the fire, it appeared to be about 150 metres square.

In took five firefighters approximately five hours to put out the blaze, said Wyatt. The firefighters left town around 5 p.m. and didn't get back until after 11 p.m.

In that area the only way the fire would start is because of a cigarette butt,” he said.

Throwing a cigarette on the ground when it is this dry is just stupid.”