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Industrial fire strikes in Rankin Inlet as firefighters battle blaze for almost seven hours

Firefighters battle a blaze at a welding shop for Inukshuk Construction Ltd. in Rankin Inlet on May 4. Photo courtest of Nate Hutchinson

Members of the Rankin Inlet Fire Department battled a structure blaze in Itivia for about seven hours on May 4.

The structure, a welding shop for Inukshuk Construction Ltd., had an exposed, high-pitched ceiling with two layers of highly flammable exposed styrofoam insulation.

A total of 13 firefighters responded to the blaze, along with help from the hamlet’s public works crew.

Rankin Inlet fire chief Mark Wyatt said he had just returned home from a funeral when he received the fire call at 4:37 p.m.

He said the interior was fully involved by the time crews arrived and, with limited water supply and no hydrants, firefighters performed a defensive attack to protect exposures that included two fuel tanks and a fuel truck.

“I don’t know what caused it,” said Wyatt.

“It started in the furnace area and, by the time I got there, it was pretty fully involved. It got into the middle part of the building, which is, basically, five sea cans wrapped around an open area that they put a roof over with styrofoam insulation. Once that catches fire, it burns almost like gasoline.

“The whole thing was going pretty good by the time the fire department arrived and, of course, there’s no fire hydrants in Itivia, so you get ahead of something and then you’re out of water and waiting for the hamlet water truck to arrive. They only had one water truck that we had going back and forth.

“The cause of the fire is undetermined at this point, but is not deemed suspicious.”

Wyatt said the firefighters didn’t leave the scene of the blaze until about 12:30 a.m.

He said when the firefighters were done, the whole building was a complete write off.

“If I had to, I’d estimate total damage costs to be close to a million dollars,” he said.

About the Author: Darrell Greer, Local Journalism Initiative

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