Fires in Iqaluit: a 10-plex and several shacks destroyed by fire within 12 hours

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A blaze early Sunday morning in the lower plateau area, or 5300 block, took out several units of a 10-plex, and saw neighbouring multiplexes evacuated.

Flames and smoke consume part of a 10-plex in the lower plateau area of Iqaluit at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, June 30.
photo courtesy of Thomas Rohner

So far the City of Iqaluit has not officially confirmed no one was injured, however, neighbours say they saw the residents of the unit where the fire started successfully evacuated.

Emergency responders were on the scene at approximately 6:30 a.m.

“I was woken up shortly after 6:30 in the morning by banging on the door and incessant doorbell ringing. As soon as I woke up I could smell smoke, so I went downstairs,” said Thomas Rohner, who was evacuated from an identical 10-plex next to the one on fire.

Rohner and his partner Alex grabbed their dog and cat, as well as a few possessions.

“When I got outside the smoke was so thick that I could barely even see my truck in the parking lot,” said Rohner.

By then, firefighters, RCMP and other emergency personnel were on the scene.

The couple drove their truck a bit farther down the road away from the fire. The access to the road out of the lower plateau area was blocked by emergency vehicles, as the road is a cul-de-sac.

Residents of the burning 10-plex, as well as residents from the neighbouring building, which were also evacuated, watch as firefighters battle a stubborn blaze.
photo courtesy Bill Williams

“The fire was in full force, consuming the top right unit of the building next door. The firefighters were trying to get that fire under control for about four hours (after that). In that time, a couple of times, it looked like the fire was almost out, but then there were flames, I think at the back part of the unit and I don’t know if the hose could reach back there,” said Rohner.

The fire took about four hours to extinguish.

In the midst of the battle to subdue the flames, part of the 10-plex was torn down.

Neighbours from all three buildings stood on the street, watching as firefighters worked to extinguish the stubborn fire.

The morning was cold and windy, and many residents were not adequately dressed. Some stood wrapped in blankets, watching the scene in shock.

“The situation was pretty intense and emotional and stressful for everybody, especially for those who live in the building (on fire).  You know people were just concerned, first, to make sure that everybody got out OK and that nobody was hurt,” said Rohner.

“And then for their pets, and then for their possessions.”

Rohner also witnessed firefighters helping residents salvage some belongings from the burned building after the fire.

After the blaze on the lower plateau was extinguished, only about half the building remained, and sources say the entire building may now be structurally unsound.
Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

The evening before, several shacks located on the beach were also destroyed by fire.

The City of Iqaluit has not yet released details of that fire, either.

Several shacks at the beach in Iqaluit were destroyed by fire the evening of June 29.
photo courtesy of Bill Williams