Puppy survives boat fire in Iqaluit that destroyed man's residence

It was a rough start to the week for Everton Michael Lewis, who says he went for a Monday morning coffee run and came back to find his home in flames.

"I went out for coffee and I went for a walk around and came back, and I saw the fire," said Lewis, who was temporarily living in a boat on the beach by Iqaluit's Sinaa Street.

"I saw the fire and the smoke. And the boat burning."

But it didn't matter to Lewis that his current home was crumbling into blackened pieces of charred wood, spewing out dark smoke in the air.

"Really, I'm worried about my little dog. That's what I'm worried about," Lewis told CBC News, as crews were battling the flames behind him.

Sixteen volunteer and staff firefighters responded, along with three trucks. Snow and winds were picking up by the time crews arrived. There was a blizzard-warning for Iqaluit Monday.

The fire was put out within three minutes of the crew arriving, mid-Monday morning.

'I'm sorry,' Lewis apologizes to pup

A short while later, a firefighter reunited Lewis with his furry companion, charred from the smoke, though his black fur wouldn't show it.

"Hey! My little dog survived," said a beaming Lewis, holding his puppy in the air.

"Why didn't you jump out?" Lewis asked his dog.

"[She] went and hid," replied the Deputy Fire Chief, Nelson Johnson, who explained that the dog climbed inside the boat during the fire.

"I'm sorry," Lewis told his puppy, while petting her head.

Deputy Chief Johnson said the department will investigate further, but the fire seems to be caused by a heater that was left on.

Johnson warned residents to keep an eye on anything with an open flame or heating devices during this time of the year, and to keep at least three feet distance between the source of the heat and other items.

This is not the first time a boat has caught on fire in Iqaluit. In September, a man's remains were found in a boat that caught on fire.

Iqaluit's homeless population often struggle to find shelter in the city, and opt for other solutions like finding shelter in boats by the beach. Last month, Iqaluit's Mayor Madeleine Redfern said the city put in an offer to purchase a larger building to house more of the city's homeless population.

CBC News reached out to the Uquutaq Society men's shelter about Lewis' situation, but they declined to comment specifically on his case.

"We do everything we can to support those in need," said Janet Brewster, the society's chair, in an email response.

But Brewster said sometimes, certain clients are asked to leave the shelter to ensure safety of clients and staff.

Lewis said he's not worried about losing his home, nor about his future.

"I'll be ok. Trust me, I know how to think when things get bad," said Lewis.