House fire in downtown Yellowknife likely caused by electrical cord used outdoors

A fire that destroyed a home in downtown Yellowknife on June 14 was likely caused by an electrical cord that wasn't meant for use outdoors, according to officials.

The Office of the Fire Marshal has wrapped up its investigation into a house fire on 50A Avenue. It determined that a cord behind the house that provided power to a detached shed is "highly suspected" as sparking the fire, the spokesperson for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs Jay Boast said in an email on Monday.

"An examination of the cord confirmed that it was not designed to be used as a permanent power supply nor was it certified for outdoor application," said Boast.

He said witness statements along with photos and video showed the fire started behind the house, and that no other "suspected ignition sources" were found in the area.

Boast said it's believed that the cord's sheathing deteriorated from exposure to the elements, particularly the sun, and that the cord shorted out, igniting the fire.

He said the damage is estimated at $1 million.

Danielle d'Entremont/CBC

The fire created large flames and heavy smoke and caused damage to a neighbouring home. 

A woman, man, their one-year-old son and their cat who were living at the home got out safely and no injuries were reported. The family thanked Yellowknifers for their generosity following the blaze in an open letter published on Cabin Radio's website. 

Safety reminders to residents

In Boast's email, the department reminded residents that electrical cords are not permitted to be used as a permanent power supply, and to follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

"Ensure electrical components bear a standards seal such as CSA and use a professional electrician to ensure components are approved and installed as required," said Boast.

The department also says residents should check that they have adequate insurance, and reminded renters that tenant insurance "is not overly expensive and available to cover your losses in the event of a fire."