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Latham Island duplex burns

Jessica Klinkenberg
Northern News Services
Monday, June 4, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Fire crews battled all night to extinguish a spectacular house fire that left two Yellowknife women homeless Saturday evening.

The fire at the 87 Morrison Drive duplex was reported at approximately 10 p.m.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

This duplex at 87 Morrison Drive burned to the ground Saturday night, leaving two Yellowknife women homeless and two pet cats feared dead. It took firefighters nine hours to put out the fire. - photo courtesy of Jack Danylchuk

Flames were seen shooting some 40 feet into the air by the time the fire department arrived. Smoke and flames were visible from downtown Yellowknife.

Carol Mills, owner of one half of the duplex, said she was at a friend's house nearby when she noticed flames coming out of the back of her side of the duplex.

"I said, 'look at my house. What? There's flames coming out of the back,'" said Mills, accompanied by the duplex's other owner Anita Lemmetty. Both women stood nearby holding each other as they watched the duplex burn.

"Oh my God, look at my living room,' said Mills. "It's not stopping."

No one was hurt in the fire but Mills worried her two cats didn't make it out.

"I've got two pets in there and I don't think they're going to come out. I tried to go in there to get them," Mills said.

Lemmetty was out walking her dogs when the fire started. She called the fire department as soon as she noticed the fire.

Lemmetty said she went into her side of the duplex, which had not caught on fire, and saw what appeared to be part of the roof melting onto her porch.

"There was liquid coming out of the back," said Lemmetty. "It looked like water."

One neighbour, who declined to give his name, described a hectic scene as fire crews attempted to reach the fire through the narrow, vehicle-cluttered one-way streets on Latham Island at the extreme north end of Yellowknife.

Water had to be trucked in because there are no fire hydrants on Latham Island.

"Total pandemonium, that's what I saw," he said. "Ndilo is filling up with cars."

It was the second time that day the fire department was called to fight a fire on Latham Island.

Fire crews were summoned at approximately 12 p.m. to a less spectacular but a destructive house fire nonetheless at 2 Harriets Lane after smoke was seen coming out of both sides of the house.

One neighbour said he heard the interior of the house burst into flames when the owner returned home and opened the door, creating a backdraft.

Lt. Dave Sundberg of the Yellowknife Fire Department ruled out a backdraft situation at the Harriets Lane fire, although he couldn't say how the fire started as it's still under investigation.

He said the fire was contained to one room. Damage to the house is estimated at $350,000. No injuries were reported.

Sundberg couldn't provide an estimate on cost damages to the Morrison Drive duplex Sunday morning, although the house was totally destroyed.

He said that fire too is still under investigation, and no cause has been determined at press time.

Fire crews didn't return to the station until around 9 a.m. Sunday morning, said Sundberg. About 18 firefighters attended both fires.

"Most of them are in bed right now sleeping for the day shift," said Sundberg.

with files from Mike W. Bryant