Tuktoyaktuk duplex fire leaves man in hospital, family without home

A Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., man is being treated for severe burns after a duplex fire Saturday evening in the Arctic community.

The fire began Saturday evening on Reindeer Point Road. The town's fire department arrived at approximately 5:30 p.m. and the building was already in flames, according to Stacey Cockney-Raddy, Tuktoyaktuk's deputy fire chief.

"You could feel the heat right from across the street," she said. "The flames were so big."

Prior to the firefighters' arrival, the injured man had already been pulled from the burning building by two civilians, who Cockney-Raddy identified as Jimmy Avik and John Tedjuk, offering them "a very big heroic thank you."

Fire crews were able to quickly control the blaze, but battled it through the night, finally extinguishing it after about 12 hours. While the group worked to contain the fire at the burning duplex, power was disabled at nearby homes for fear that live wires may collapse to the ground during the effort.

"It seemed like there was nothing we could do," said Cockney-Raddy. "But we did it. We controlled it, we got it done. I'm very proud of what we did."

Building 'not livable'

The fire department's efforts were not enough to save the duplex. The side that caught fire is "completely gone," and the other side is "not livable at all" due to water and smoke damage, said Cockney-Raddy. 

RCMP Const. Robert Frizzell says the family on that side of the duplex will need to find another place to live, but that the community has "really rallied around them."

"One of the great benefits of a small town or small community is that everybody bands together rather quickly," he said. "I know they had a place to stay within minutes of knowing about the fire."

Frizzell also said that a social media fundraising campaign has begun, in an attempt to help cover expenses and replace items lost during the fire.

The cause of the fire is not currently known, but the Northwest Territories fire marshal is in the community conducting an investigation.