Highway 3 fire deemed suspicious

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A cause has yet to be determined for a suspicious fire that destroyed an abandoned building on Highway 3 Friday night.

Firefighters scramble to get hoses down a laneway towards the North Country Stables where an abandoned structure caught fire Friday night. No people nor horses were hurt but the shed was destroyed. A cause has yet to be determined, but the fire marshal is calling it suspicious.
John McFadden/NNSL photo

Veterinarian Tom Pisz owns North Country Stables, which is nearby the structure that burned. He told Yellowknifer on Saturday his staff was just finishing tending to the horses when the fire broke out. He said he was scared because he could both hear and see the flames and thought it could spread to the stable.

Fortunately, he said, the fire did not reach his barn, horses or other animals and nobody was hurt.

According to Richard McIntosh, spokesperson for the City Of Yellowknife, a call came in at about 10:30 p.m. reporting a large fire with heavy smoke across from Trapper’s Lake. He said the Yellowknife Fire Department sent three firefighters, a pumper truck and tanker truck.

“Upon initial arrival, responding firefighters found a fully engulfed, abandoned structure,” he stated, adding the first responders made a call-out to off-duty members to help fight the blaze.

A total of 12 firefighters responded, along with an ambulance and paramedics. McIntosh said an additional tanker truck was used for water shuttle.

NWT Fire Marshal Chucker Dewar said investigators from his office have been to the scene but because the building was razed, it was impossible to tell how the fire started.

“We have deemed it suspicious,” he said. “Obviously there was no power or other things that could start a fire in that location.”

He added his team is trying to locate the owner to get him to secure any other structures on the property and this isn’t the first suspicious fire at that location.

Dewar said the RCMP is also investigating.

The Friday night fire was the first of two emergency trips out Highway 3 over the weekend. At around 11 p.m. Sunday, crews were called to a fire further out the highway. According to McIntosh, when fire crews arrived they were told by the person living on the property that it was a controlled burn.

Yellowknifer asked an official from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources whether this person had issued a permit for the burn or if one was needed. No response was received by press time.

That incident prompted a full group alert, meaning extra personnel were called in to staff the fire hall.

– with files from Emelie Peacock