Generator fire on Ingraham Trail

by Kerry McCluskey and Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 09/98) - Madeline Lake resident Brent Ray watched as one of his power generators was destroyed in a fire Wednesday night.

The fire also gutted the shed building that housed his auxiliary generator, as well as equipment and tools.

Ray, a Con mine mechanic, said he was lucky to get his truck, which was parked between the generator shed and his A-frame house, start it and move it in time.

Firefighters were called to the scene but they took 32 minutes to respond -- Brent and Leah Ray live about 25 kilometres down the Ingraham Trail -- and by then about all that was left of the generator building and its contents were ashes.

Ray said he discovered the fire around 9:45 p.m.

He was using the backup generator because his primary generator, though still operational, needs rebuilding.

"There was a power interruption so I went out and I saw the back end of the generator shack glowing."

Ray emptied several fire extinguishers at the blaze but was unsuccessful.

Deputy fire chief Mike Lowing said firefighters arrived to find the shed and its contents ablaze.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined but Lowing said he suspects a closed exhaust door on the building played a part.

"It (the door) possibly caused the generator to overheat, but we don't know that for sure."

Lowing said damage could be around $14,000 -- $10,000 for the building and $4,000 for contents.

He said there are added factors in fighting fires out on the Ingraham Trail.

"You have to take your own water with you but that's no different than Old Town. There's a fairly lengthy response time and we're often not able to save the structure, but we can stop other buildings from catching," Lowing said.

Fortunately, fires on the Ingraham Trail are infrequent.

"Structural fires on the Ingraham Trail do not place a large demand on our services," Lowing said.

This is the first Ingraham Trail alarm firefighters have responded to in two years.

The fire at Madeline is the second in less than a week that Yellowknife firefighters have responded to.

Friday, the Latham Island home of Jack and Paivi Williams was severely damaged.

Just days after the fire, the Williams started rebuilding.