Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit November 08, 2018 - 1:10 pm

Northmart fire one of five overnight in Iqaluit, prompting investigation

City officials say there is no concern about a food shortage

SARAH ROGERS
Firefighters said a blaze at Iqaluit's Northmart store had been contained by mid-morning on Thursday, Nov. 8, although the fire appeared to be flaring up again around noon. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Firefighters said a blaze at Iqaluit's Northmart store had been contained by mid-morning on Thursday, Nov. 8, although the fire appeared to be flaring up again around noon. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Shoppers flocked to Arctic Ventures Thursday morning to stock up on food items, fearing the Northmart closure could mean shortages in Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Shoppers flocked to Arctic Ventures Thursday morning to stock up on food items, fearing the Northmart closure could mean shortages in Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

The fire at Iqaluit’s Northmart store is one of five blazes that the city’s fire department was called to respond to between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, prompting local police to open an investigation.

But Iqaluit RCMP have not said yet if they suspect arson or a link between the five fires, three of which were started in vehicles and another one in a vacant home.

RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Danielle Pollock said Thursday the fires are the subject of an ongoing investigation with Nunavut’s Fire Marshall’s Office.

Firefighters got their first call Wednesday evening at around 10 p.m., said Nelson Johnson, Iqaluit’s deputy fire chief. Crews were called to Northmart at about 1:40 a.m. on Thursday morning, he said.

“At that time, [the fire] was in the garage and loading dock area,” Johnson told a morning news conference at the City of Iqaluit offices.

“It got up into the attic space in the warehouse.”

Sea cans around the building, as well as the main store area, remain unaffected, he said, though the store itself would have sustained some water and smoke damage.

When firefighters arrived, there was a group of Northmart night-time stocking staff at work, Johnson said. That group was evacuated, unharmed, as well as a group of elders whose housing units line the back of the store.

Elders are currently being housed in the city’s Qammaq building, where the local Canadian Red Cross chapter is providing supplies and support for the group.

By about 8 a.m. on Thursday, the fire intensified, leading firefighters to knock down one side of the Northmart warehouse to stop the spread of the blaze to surrounding buildings.

By mid-morning on Thursday, Nelson said the fire had been contained, though small flames began rising from the warehouse again before noon.

A total of 18 local firefighters have been working on the scene of the Northmart fire, while the city said 14 additional firefighters are flying in this afternoon from Pangnirtung and Cape Dorset.

City officials warned residents that the fire will likely continue for some time. They’re asking residents to stay clear of the area to allow responders and water trucks to access the scene.

A section of Queen Elizabeth Way remained closed on Thursday morning, as well as Nakasuk Elementary School, which is located across the street from Northmart.

Concerns over food shortages

As rush hour began in Nunavut’s capital, residents flocked to the city’s remaining grocery stores to stock up on items, fearing the Northmart closure could mean a shortage of food.

Arctic Ventures, the city’s other major grocery retailer, opened early and pledged to bring in more food and staff as needed.

Down the road at DJ Specialties, residents said store staff were limiting customers to a certain number of some items, like eggs and milk.

The city’s chief administrative officer, Amy Elgersma, said the city has already been in touch with retailers and can confirm there is enough store space in the community to store food and supplies for Iqaluit’s needs.

“There is no concern that there’ll be a food shortage,” she said on Thursday morning.

“They’ve made arrangements to bring more supplies in. And they’ll make sure residents have access to a steady supply.”

It remains to be seen how Northmart’s closure affects food availability and prices.

“It’s a little early to speculate,” said Iqaluit city councillor Kyle Sheppard.

“I would hope that our retailers will do the right thing [and] maintain prices and provide the services we need.”

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(6) Comments:

#1. Posted by Northern Guy on November 08, 2018

I am not as worried about food shortages as I am worried about some lunatic lighting my house or car on fire! They better catch this maniac quickly.

#2. Posted by No Kidding on November 08, 2018

Losing the food sucks… but we’re far more worried about the arson.

#3. Posted by Neighbourhood on November 08, 2018

pull together and do not be blind to your own kids or teens or your friends because if they need help.
this is the time to come forward and the discovery will come no matter what.  Prayers for those who are sick in this way.

#4. Posted by Crystal Clarity on November 08, 2018

Arsonists are very dangerous people and can not help themselves. They are obsessed by watching things burn. It’s crucial that they catch him/her right away. Next time people could be injured or killed by this person. Be on the watch. 5 fires in one night is a bad sign that they are peaking. Keep an eye out. This person is most likely in the vicinity watching their handiwork. They will be there watching things burn. They get off watching everything go up in flames.

#5. Posted by Lock em Up on November 08, 2018

The little thug responsible needs to be caught and put behind bars for a very long time. No excuse for this kind of destruction. A lot of lives will be affected from this.

#6. Posted by food for thought on November 09, 2018

I don’t know who did all these arsonist acts, but there seems to be quite a bit happening within the last year in the capital.

Is it possible that this person recently got out of BCC? If so, they should start warning the public when an offender like this is released back into the general public. They already do this with other criminals that were charged with some kind of assault, they should also do it with people charged with arson.

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