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NNSL Photo/graphic

Smoke billows from the Inuvik Landfill Sunday afternoon as Inuvik fire department and heavy equipment operators worked to bring the blaze under control. - Jason Unrau/NNSL photo

Dump fire rages

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Dec 23/05) - Nearly five days they were called to a fire at the town dump, firefighters aided by heavy equipment including tankers, dump trucks and loaders, continued to try to douse the blaze Tuesday afternoon.

The fire, which by Sunday afternoon had spewed a huge cloud of smoke that drifted north of town, started sometime before 10 p.m. Dec. 16 when the Inuvik Fire Department received the call, according to Capt. Julie Miller.

"It's not something that just began at the end of last week," she said Monday morning. "It's a very deep seated fire."

Miller estimated the fire was still be burning, "20 to 25 feet below ground." Due to this and the fact there is no water supply or hydrants at the landfill, Miller said firefighters have taken a back seat to heavy equipment.

"Our involvement is very minimal (Monday) and heavy equipment is being used to trench and prevent the fire's extension," said Miller.

Mackenzie Valley Construction, Northwind and Nova Hotel have provided a total of five tanker trucks to help get water to fire.

Miller said that because there is no hydrant at the dump, these water haulers have been keeping the fire department's pumper truck.

"It's been a challenge getting the water there and we're relying on water shuttles," she said. Snow was also being hauled to the scene.

The cause of the fire may never be known. Possibilities range from a smoldering cigarette in a disposed buttcan to underground combustion of methane or a combination of both.

Miller said regional Environment and Natural Resources officials were monitoring the smoke cloud very closely and, "If it threatens the town there would be advisements for those with respiratory conditions to stay indoors."

Calls to the regional ENR office by the Drum to determine local air quality were not returned by press time.