'Terrible ordeal' in Baker Lake after 6 sewage trucks destroyed in fire

A fire that broke out at the municipal garage in Baker Lake, Nunavut, early Tuesday morning has caused significant damage.

According to the hamlet's senior administrative officer, Sheldon Dorey, six sewage trucks, two loaders, a Caterpillar D6 bulldozer, and a garbage truck were lost in the fire.

The community's water trucks were not housed in the garage and are safe.

"We're in a serious situation but not an emergency," Dorey said, noting that they are still able to provide services to the hamlet.

"If we end up with storms and/or something that happens that we can't provide the services, then we're going to start getting in a world of hurt."

Submitted by Melody Pudnak
Submitted by Melody Pudnak

One sewage truck was not stored at the garage and Dorey said municipal staff are working on getting it operational on Tuesday. He said they are also hoping to have a vacuum truck from Agnico Eagle Mines in the community Wednesday as an interim solution.

Dorey said the trucks will be running from 18 to 24 hours a day to provide service to residents.

"The hamlet is doing everything they can to work through this solution as quickly as possible," he said.

Dorey said they are also looking into options for longer term solutions, including bringing in replacement vehicles. He added that community government staff have identified vehicles in southern Ontario, and Arviat may have a surplus vehicle.

Dorey stressed that residents should conserve water. Schools have been closed for the day in an effort to conserve water so as not to fill up their sewage tanks.

Submitted by Arlene Ikinilik
Submitted by Arlene Ikinilik

"We would just like to thank everyone for their understanding and patience and we will get through this terrible ordeal without a doubt," Dorey said.

'Huge fire'

There were no serious injuries as a result of the fire, Dorey said, although two firefighters were taken to the health centre for a checkup.

Arlene Ikinilik said firefighters were battling the cold weather while working to contain the fire.

"One of the firefighters went into an apartment to warm up, his hands and feet were really cold, his hands could barely move from being too frozen," she said.

Ikinilik said she got closer the fire, which started around 2 or 3 a.m., when she went to get gas.

Submitted by Arlene Ikinilik
Submitted by Arlene Ikinilik

"It was just a huge fire," she said. "When we got closer to the building it smelt really bad."

A spokeswoman for Nunavut's Community and Government Services Department said government officials are in close contact with the community as the situation develops.

Baker Lake, which has a population of about 2,000 people, is in the territory's Kivalliq Region.

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