Friday, March 25, 2011

The fire

Last night the plan had been to write the usual Republic of Doyle review. Except I was completely knackered and didn't have it it me to sit down and write it. "No problem," I thought. "I'll just do it tomorrow evening."

Except in lieu of events that happened in Iqaluit last night, writing about a TV show seems kind of silly. Although I promise to have a review up by tomorrow night.

We had a fire last night in Iqaluit. A bad one. No one died, thankfully, but a relatively new apartment complex burned to the ground. You can read more about it at the CBC or Nunatsiaq. There's a fairly spectacular photo of what the fire looked like on the front of Nunatsiaq as well. I can't directly link to it, however.

Fires are bad anywhere, but up here they tend to be much worse. Trying to fight a fire in cold that can be -30C or more is tricky. The wind was up last night and there were plenty of other buildings around that could have went up. Hell, we found ash around our house when we woke up this morning and we're about a kilometre or more away. But hard work and more than a little luck (the wind was blowing the right way to prevent the fire from spreading), meant it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Still, for about 60 people, it was disastrous enough. The fire started at 1 am. Most had enough time to wake up, throw something on to stop from freezing and get out. That's about it. They lost everything. Plus I'm hearing many didn't have tenants insurance, which means getting the insurance company to pay for their material losses is not going to happen.

Plus, this is Iqaluit. The apartment occupancy availability is somewhere around zero. When I first heard about the fire this morning I honestly though those 60 people were going to be living in the old residences out by the airport for the foreseeable future. I really didn't think there was going to be anywhere for them to live.

However, if there's such a thing as a lucky break from absolute disaster, then the victims got two. First, they were all employees of the Government of Nunavut, which had provided housing for them. The GN still has some vacant apartments, so they'll have new places to live in a few days.

The second lucky break is the community is rallying massively to help out. People have been dropping of donations of all kinds at the high school and other places all day. Cathy and I have, and I suspect just about everyone in town is doing it as well. Rotary, North Mart and Arctic Ventures are giving money to help and local banks have set up accounts where people can donate money as well.

It doesn't help with personal momentos that were lost, like photographs, jewelry and gifts. People lost everything and the psychological impact that has can never be made up, not matter how much the community rallies. Still, I'm glad to see everyone is pitching, trying to do something to help. I honestly don't think much work was done in Iqaluit today. It was trying to find out what had happened, if anyone was hurt, if you knew anyone in the building (Cathy had a former co-worker living there. Both her and her dad lost everything. I had a friend who lived across the street. He's fine, other than the shock of opening his curtains at 4 am and discovering the apartment building about 100 feet away was engulfed in flames) and how could you help.

There are still questions to be answered, of course. No one knows how the fire started, other than it started outside. Some are questioning why there was no sprinkler system inside of the apartment building. And it'll sort itself out, I'm sure.

But the important thing is that everyone is safe and, as much as possible, are being looked after.

By the way, if you want to help, I suspect the easiest way for those not living in Iqaluit would be to make a donation at the bank. CIBC has an account set up. If you wanted to go to your bank and see if you could make a donation, I think that would be the best thing to do.

Last Five
1. Last night of the world - Bruce Cockburn
2. Green grass (live) - Tom Waits
3. Fire up ahead - The Trews
4. Tunnel of love (live) - Dire Straits*
5. Waiting for the world to change - John Mayer


me, just me said...

So, have we figured out how the fail neighbors to the South can donate?

Photo of fire said...

The link to the photo of the apartment fire: