It’s believed youths were responsible for starting a Tuesday evening fire under Kugluktuk High School that forced the facility to remain closed on Wednesday, Mayor Ryan Nivingalok says.
Neither Nivingalok nor senior administrative officer Don LeBlanc knew the full extent of the damage but the amount of smoke that entered the building was extensive, according to LeBlanc.
Approximately 15 firefighters responded to the blaze at close to 7 p.m. It took almost two hours to extinguish.
The hamlet hired two individuals to remain at Kugluktuk High School after the fire as a security precaution, LeBlanc added.
Nivingalok said the fire attracted numerous onlookers and raised alarm in the community.
“When you’re talking about the school, that’s major,” said Nivingalok. “Everybody’s concerned… it’s tough to deal with.”
Jimmy Hikok Illihakvik, the community’s elementary school, opened on Wednesday morning but was closed for the afternoon because the schools share infrastructure that proved to be problematic as a result of the fire, LeBlanc said.
The high school and elementary school both opened for the year on Aug. 14.
Due to school fires in Cape Dorset and Kugaaruk, the Government of Nunavut’s insurance payments for schools climbed to $1,519,888 in 2017-18 from $190,730 in 2015-16.
The investigation into Tuesday’s fire in Kugluktuk is ongoing.