The arena in Uranium City burned to the ground Wednesday morning.
The arena itself has been shut down for quite some time, according to local resident Margaret Powder.
"The curling rink side had a roof cave in, I'd say about five years ago," Powder said.
Powder awoke to a panicked phone call from a fellow community member alerting her to the fire. She promptly woke her husband up.
She said they went to the mayor's house, woke him up, and proceeded to wake up other community members in the northern village, located on the northern shores of Lake Athabasca.
Powder said it took about three hours for residents to put the flames out and that the ruins were still smoldering as of Wednesday afternoon.
She said it had rained fairly consistently for about 10 of the last 14 days and there wasn't much concern about the fire spreading.
"It surprises me that with all the thunder and lightning that's been happening in the north, we don't have a forest fire that I know of," Powder said.
She speculated the fire could have been caused by lightning, as a storm had just rolled through the area but also worried someone purposely burned the building down.
Powder said RCMP were contacted to investigate, but that Uranium City is isolated and separated from much of the province.
The arena's future, like the community's, is uncertain, she said.
"You would think that after 35 years of shutdown of a mining community, the government would have this place cleaned up by now," Powder said.
"But it's not like that. So I don't even know what the future plan is here, because when you go around my community all you see is debris and abandoned buildings, so we are a fire risk when you look at it that way."
Fire highlights phone line, emergency service concerns
Powder said the person who first called to alert her to the fire tried to contact the community's fire service line.
She said calls to the fire line are normally routed to different homes in Uranium City, but on Wednesday morning, it wasn't in service for some reason.
"In the past few months we've been having phone line problems in the north," Powder said.
"A few of our houses lose connection when we get bad weather. For instance, [the neighbour] that called this morning had no phone service for the last two months."
Powder said the fire left her shaken and she worried about the lack of emergency services in Uranium City.
She said there's a volunteer crew that has one truck. Water connections are scarce in the community, she said.
She expressed worries about what would happen if an occupied home were to catch on fire. It happened a decade ago, leading to the deaths of two people in a cabin fire.
"That traumatized our whole community for years. Now, for me, it's haunting," she said.