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Twenty-three firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after 3 a.m. Monday along with five fire and rescue vehicles to fight a fire at the Lions Den near Boot Lake, which was under control shortly after 5 a.m., said Gordon Simms, acting fire chief. - photo courtesy of Matthew Hamilton

Flames destroy Lions Den
Fire set intentionally: fire marshal's office

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 21, 2012

INUVIK
A fire that destroyed the Lions Den near Boot Lake early Monday morning was likely set intentionally, says the fire marshal's office.

"The fire is still under investigation, but it does look like it was intentionally set," said Greg Zimmerman, assistant fire marshal, based in Inuvik.

This conclusion was made due to an absence of other reasons such as electrical for the fire to have sparked, he said.

The fire had previously been called suspicious by Staff Sgt. Wayne Norris of the Inuvik RCMP.

"It's suspicious in the sense that buildings don't just catch on fire," he said.

It was the RCMP that first alerted emergency responders of the fire at the Lions Club building.

At 2:54 a.m. Monday morning, a routine police patrol noticed smoke coming from the vicinity. Upon investigation, heavy smoke was seen pouring from the building and flames were climbing the walls, said Norris.

The Lions Den had been scheduled to host a welcome barbecue for Petroleum Show delegates later that day as a fundraising event for the Inuvik Community Greenhouse. Therefore, a large barbecue wagon and several propane bottles were in close vicinity to the burning building. RCMP removed these items shortly after arriving on scene, said Norris.

"We're obviously concerned about what could have happened," he said.

At 2:57 a.m., the fire department was contacted. Shortly thereafter, 23 members of the Inuvik Volunteer Fire Department and five fire response vehicles were on scene fighting the blaze.

When acting fire chef Gordon Simms arrived, he said the building was already fully ablaze and one wall of the structure was already failing.

"It was engulfed in flames, the whole building," he said. "She went fast."

With little hope of saving the Lions Den, the fire team focused on containing the situation and preventing the fire from spreading to the surrounding forest and other structures in the area, said Simms.

At 4:40 a.m., a helicopter that had been working to battle a nearby forest fire arrived to assist, dumping buckets of water along the tree line to prevent further spreading.

By 5:04 a.m., the fire was under control, although fire crews continued to work until about 7 a.m.

"Everybody was involved, and they did a good job in fighting it," said Simms of his firefighters. "We knocked it down as quickly as we could knock it down."

The building was completely destroyed in the fire. As of press time, police and the fire marshal's office were continuing to work on the investigation into the incident.

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