Blaze rips through Rankin Inlet warehouse

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A fire that erupted in its warehouse last week has dealt a serious blow to a company in Rankin Inlet, as damages could reach $1 million.

Rankin Fire Chief Mark Wyatt said the department responded to the call at the KPM warehouse on Itivia Street at about 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 12.

There were no injuries in the blaze.

He said the fire was difficult and dangerous to fight due to extreme cold temperatures, and the 6,000 square-foot structure being full of combustibles and dangerous goods.

The KPM warehouse is engulfed in flames during a dangerous blaze in Rankin Inlet this past Wednesday, Feb, 12. Photo courtesy of Mark Wyatt

“There was a fuel tank inside the building, lots of paint, used fuel and just about everything the company used for its building maintenance,” said Wyatt.

“There was everything in there from tools of all kinds, cub enclosures and electrical equipment to a backhoe and numerous compressors and generators.”

Wyatt said the fire started while an employee was trying to thaw out a fuel line.

He said the flames could have been the result of old fuel or debris being ignited during the work.

“The building was dark because they didn’t have any electrical in there at the time, so the employee was working with a flashlight and a torch trying to thaw out the fuel line to get the furnace going when he saw a flash and a fire start,” said Wyatt.

“He went to get a fire extinguisher. When he returned about 30 seconds later, the fire was bigger and the full extinguisher only knocked the flames down a little so he ran to get another one.

“The fire had crawled all the way up the wall on the inside of the building when he returned the second time, so he went to get the heck out of there.

“He couldn’t get the door, which pulled in, open because of the pressure from the fire. Then, fortunately, the garage door popped-out enough from the pressure for him to jump-out through.”

Wyatt said the fire was venting through the garage door by the time Rankin firefighters arrived on scene.

He said the firefighters opened the other door and everything was blanketed in heavy, heavy smoke.

“We couldn’t see a darn thing so, given that there was nobody inside, I wasn’t sending anyone inside to try and put out a fire to save a building that was filled with incredibly dangerous materials.

“We fought the fire from the outside – a defensive attack – as best we could and let it burn.”

Wyatt said the fire delivered a huge hit to the company’s operations.

He said KPM is compiling a list of the building’s contents but, if he had to make a rough estimate, he’s put the damage at well over $1 million in the contents alone.

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