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Pingo burns near Tuktoyaktuk

Philippe Morin
Northern News Services
Monday, June 11, 2007

TUKTOYAKYUK - The Ibyuk pingo outside Tuktoyaktuk was recently damaged by fire.

No one was injured in the blaze, which authorities believe might have stemmed from an unattended campfire.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Blackened and charred areas can clearly be seen on the Ibyuk pingo, after the June 3 fire. Authorities believe an unattended campfire might have started the blaze, which burned for several hours. - photo courtesy of Pat Dunn/Parks Canada

However, Pat Dunn of Parks Canada said the pingo was horribly burned.

"It was quite severely damaged," she said on June 6, adding two hectares of vegetation were destroyed during the fire.

According to Tuktoyaktuk RCMP, residents called police around 6 p.m. on June 3, reporting a large fire outside the hamlet.

Smoke from the burning pingo, which is five kilometres west of Tuktoyaktuk, was visible in the community.

Roman Mahnic, principal of Mangilaluk school, said he could see the fire from the school.

Tuktoyaktuk's fire services first responded to the emergency, and an Aklak Air plane flew over the pingo to confirm it was on fire.

RCMP said the local Shell company then donated the use of a Bell 212 helicopter, to scan for people in danger. No one was found in harm's way.

Tuktoyaktuk RCMP Const. Chris Pittman said the case has now been transferred to Parks Canada, since the pingo is a national landmark.

Dunn said Parks Canada is still trying to determine what happened, but one possible explanation would be a campfire left unattended..

Tuktoyaktuk's pingos are a nominee on CBC television's "Wonders of Canada" contest. While there are more than 1,000 pingos in the region of Tuktoyaktuk, the Ibyuk is the tallest in Canada, and the centrepiece of eight larger pingos.