Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit November 08, 2018 - 6:44 am

Iqaluit firefighters respond to overnight blaze at Northmart store

Fire at Iqaluit's largest retail store began late last night, continued through the morning

Iqaluit firefighters battle a fire inside the Northmart building on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 8. Here you can see heavy equipment being used to break open the building to help expose the fire. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Iqaluit firefighters battle a fire inside the Northmart building on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 8. Here you can see heavy equipment being used to break open the building to help expose the fire. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Black smoke billows from Iqaluit's Northmart around 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)
Black smoke billows from Iqaluit's Northmart around 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)

(Updated at 9:35 a.m.)

This morning Iqaluit firefighters continue efforts to extinguish a fire at the Northmart store in Iqaluit.

The fire, which started early Thursday morning, led to the evacuation of elders living in a row of elders’ apartments located directly behind the store.

The fire started in the storage building located behind the actual grocery store. By about 8 a.m., as the fire intensified, firefighters were using heavy machinery to open the building and expose the fire.

The impact on the retail store remains unclear this morning. Firefighters said they did not know if there were any staff or people in the building when the blaze started.

The Iqaluit Northmart outlet is Iqaluit’s largest retail space, offering groceries, hardware, clothing and other items.

A pharmacy, a Tim Hortons outlet and a bakery are also inside the store, located near the beach in the centre of town across the road from Nakasuk School.

“This is terrible,” said one bystander who didn’t give her name. “Where are we going to buy groceries?”

“It’s bad,” said another woman. “All that sealift is up in flames for sure. I just see food insecurity even more.”

A number of elders living in housing units just behind the store were evacuated at 3 a.m. and moved into the nearby Qammaq building. No one in that group was injured.

Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern urged residents to not panic about the city’s food supply. City and Government of Nunavut officials have met with retailers, and “all our other retailers are confident that they have sufficient food on hand to supply our community needs,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Majority of our daily food is brought in by plane and will continue to do so. The situation is being monitored and assessed.

“At this point in time, there is no need for our residents to panic. If the shelves become empty, they will be replenished in due course.”

Nakasuk school and other office buildings along Queen Elizabeth Way in Iqaluit were closed Thursday morning.

The City of Iqaluit is asking residents on trucked water to conserve water for the day, so water trucks could supply what was needed to the fire department.

The city is also asking residents to keep clear of the roads in the area around Northmart.

There were reports of other smaller fires around the city late Wednesday night and early Thursday, though it’s unclear if they’re connected to the Northmart blaze.

Northmart is owned by North West Co., a publicly traded company headquartered in Winnipeg. Its Northmart outlet in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador was badly damaged by fire last September, but re-opened for business Nov. 2.

With files from Sarah Rogers and Jane George

(More to follow)

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(11) Comments:

#1. Posted by Annoyed on November 08, 2018

This is probably the same people who’ve been breaking into 812 and setting fires in the unfinished first floor that no one seems to want to do anything about.

#2. Posted by bob on November 08, 2018

Wow, it only took one comment, the first at that, to start complaining….here we go.

#3. Posted by Nanook Gordon on November 08, 2018

We will be sending food/supplies to families/elders in need. please email me and I will see what I can do for your family.

I hope everyone is safe. <3

#4. Posted by Oscare on November 08, 2018

Our prayers r with u all in Iqaluit. Hopefully no one gets hurt. God bless u all.

#5. Posted by reader on November 08, 2018

should be a good time to start and open inuit organization(s) to open a big mall related to north and made for northern inuit people and beyond. instead of profits ending up in winnipeg. i say ... winnipeg ? we don’t want your business here anymore. thank-you, bye.

#6. Posted by Northern Inuit on November 08, 2018

hopefully the drug dealers are not inconvenienced for too long.

seriously though, hopefully the Firefighters can protect the Main Store.  horrible that the Warehouse is toast.

why are some douchebags setting fire to buildings and vehicles?  are they that jealous of other peoples belongings? 

will the food prices in all other Northern Stores go up slightly to compensate for this building going up?

#7. Posted by Lol #2 on November 08, 2018

Hi Bob. What you took to be complaining was me pointing out that fires have been lit in my home three times since September. The key point being that the authorities have been notified on multiple occasions and had they acted on those reports this likely could have been avoided.

I’m sorry my comment triggered you. But you only have your poor reading comprehension to blame.

Have a good day Bob.

#8. Posted by Northern on November 08, 2018

Thank you to the First Responders for taking care of this tragic incident. in a guess i think the store is doomed either way because of smoke damage or structural issues.

#9. Posted by Sad day on November 08, 2018

This is a sad day, senseless loss & should never have happened. If this was deliberate I hope those responsible are brought to justice and realize how serious this is & how their foolish actions has affected the whole community. What is happening to our community?

#10. Posted by Kitikmeot Gal on November 08, 2018

Very sad, I just wanted to say Thank you to the First Responders in this incident. (firefighters)
When we have small/large fires in our community, I always be very very grateful for them!

#11. Posted by My Opinion on November 08, 2018

Wow! This is a terrible tragedy for Iqaluit. I’m saddened that this food insecure place now has more to worry about. In much of southern Canada, a fire this size would have 50-100 firefighters on scene and 10 plus trucks. Remember that IFD probably has 10 firefighters on this. Iqaluit Airport is helping and that’s awesome. But if you see one of our firefighters out and about, take a minute to say thanks. They do a lot with very little resources. We’re lucky to have such a great group of community servants, especially considering how the city treats them.

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