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Apartment fire declared accidental

Nanook Taxi loses portion of its fleet, apartments destroyed

Christine Kay
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Aug 05/02) - A massive fire that drew an equally large crowd in Iqaluit last weekend has been ruled accidental.

Acting fire chief Rick Hamburg said the July 28 fire was started by an employee working inside the structure.

The building, home to Nanook Polar Taxi, had four apartments attached to it.

Hamburg said the apartments were destroyed and the rest of the building suffered from intensive smoke and structural damage.

"A fellow was working on a car and the sparks from the grinder smouldered onto the floor," said Hamburg.

The floor had gas or grease spills on it and were ignited by the sparks. Workers inside the building tried to put out the fire, but were unsuccessful. One man burned his forearm in the process and was sent to hospital. He was released the same day.

Fire crews were at the scene by 4:30 p.m. and declared the fire under control by 8 p.m.

"We put out most of the fire by midnight on Sunday. There was still a lot of fire spots, but they were very hard to access. At 1 p.m. on Monday, we handed it over to the fire marshal," explained Hamburg. The fire was so hot at one point, the building's steel frame melted. It takes heat of at least 1,800 degrees F for this to occur.

Many of the cars on the lot, which have since been removed, were also destroyed. The cost of replacing the steel frame of the building, disposing of what's left over and the environmental clean up is substantial. No dollar figure on the total damage has been issued as of yet.

Gino Larochelle, part-owner of the business, was not available for comment by press time.