Iqaluit Emergency Services responded to a report of smoke in the West 40 area around 3 p.m. on Monday April 5.
The initial crew found the Operations building to be on fire with visible flames on one side of the building. 15 firefighters and six fire vehicles responded to the scene and were able to contain the fire to the one building, according to a release by the City of Iqaluit.
The fire that engulfed the Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) Upper Air weather station operations building in Iqaluit, Easter Monday afternoon, has caused it’s Upper Air monitoring program to be temporarily suspended.
There were no injuries among ECCC personnel or contractors, however all equipment inside the building was destroyed, including computers, antennas, weather balloons, radiosondes – the battery-powered telemetry equipment carried by the balloons that measures and reports data – and the radiosonde grounding station, according to ECCC spokesperson Celine Singhroy.
Data collected from the upper atmosphere was collected at the station, which would release weather balloons twice a day. The data, transmitted in real time, would be “used to provide actual conditions of the atmosphere and are incorporated into numerical weather prediction models around the globe,” wrote Singhroy in a statement.
They want to reassure people that weather prediction services are not impacted by the fire, and many tools are used to create weather forecasts, ranging from satellite images, surface weather stations, lightning detectors, radars, and computer models.
“ECCC meteorologists in Winnipeg and Edmonton prepare all weather forecasts and warnings for Iqaluit, and thankfully, weather prediction services are not impacted by the event,” said Singhroy.
The Meteorological Service of Canada will be putting their best efforts to establishing a temporary Upper Air monitoring station in Iqaluit as soon as possible, according to Singhroy.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation by the RCMP and the Office of the Fire Marshal.