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Apartment fire 'suspicious'

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Aug 19/02) - Fire Chief Cory Chegwyn is calling a recent fire at a 10-unit residential complex in Iqaluit suspicious in nature.

The blaze started in the mechanical room at Building 985 just after 1 a.m. on Aug. 13. Chegwyn said firefighters responded immediately and extinguished the blaze by 5 a.m.

"When we got there, there was an obvious fire in the boiler room. The fire was burning out around the doors," he said.

The building was evacuated and the tenants will remain without lodgings for a period of a few weeks.

"There is smoke damage in the apartments, some structural damage to the floors and the big one is the mechanical room. It's completely out of service," said Chegwyn, estimating damages of between $100,000 and $150,000.

"(The tenants) will be out for a while, it appears."

Chegwyn said the fire department and RCMP are still investigating the fire and have not yet nailed down the cause. He did say however, it was suspicious in nature.

"It has the elements of a suspicious fire, but we have nothing definite yet," said Chegwyn. "There is some question as to the cause of it."

As the investigation continues, Northern Property REIT, the owners of the building, are working fast to try and get the tenants back into their units.

Elizabeth Pinter, the property manager for the company, said temporary utilities have been set up and cleaning crews scheduled to begin work late last week.

"We hope within the next two weeks that people will be back in," said Pinter. "We're doing are very best. Thank God it's summer time."

In the meantime, one city councillor is calling for an emergency fund to help residents left homeless by fires or other crises.

Chris Wilson said city officials are considering his suggestion and had also discussed it with the territorial government.

"I suggested the city has a small fund just to get people off the street at 2 a.m. and to give them a couple of days to settle themselves," said Wilson.