Family of 5 loses home in Rankin Inlet fire

Woman says nothing could be saved but she’s thankful everyone made it out safely

A fire at a house in Rankin Inlet forced Marilyn Sandy and her family to live with her grandmother for the time being. The fire occurred on Aug. 20, Sandy said, adding the home is not repairable. (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Sandy)

By David Lochead

In a matter of minutes, Marilyn Sandy’s house was destroyed by fire while she worked at her job an hour away.

It happened Aug. 20, around 10 a.m. in Rankin Inlet.

Sandy’s parents, who share the house with her, were looking after her two young children while she was at work at the Meliadine gold mine.

She said her mother noticed an unusual smell around the house. Sandy’s father was cooking sausages, but it wasn’t the food that they smelled.

Her mother went outside to investigate and saw part of the house was on fire under the porch.

The woman rushed back inside to tell her husband, who grabbed Sandy’s young son out of his high chair and her daughter who was sleeping, and quickly got them out of the house.

Sandy said her mother tried to get some tap water for the fire, but the taps weren’t working so she got her phone and keys and they all went outside.

A couple of minutes later, the staircases were in flames and the deck had burnt down.

The remains of Marilyn Sandy’s home after the fire on Aug. 20. She said the home cannot be repaired and will likely have to be demolished. (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Sandy)

In one morning, Sandy had lost her home.

“It was the whole house,” she said in an interview Friday. “Nothing can be repaired.”

She said when she got the news and told her managers at work, she was brought back to Rankin Inlet.

It is likely the structure that remains standing will have to be demolished, Sandy said, adding a faulty electrical outlet is the suspected cause.

On Friday, Rankin Inlet fire Chief Mark Wyatt confirmed the house sustained severe damage in the fire.

For now, Sandy and her family are staying at her grandmother’s house. She doesn’t believe her house was insured, and she has applied for public housing.

With many of her family’s belongings lost in the fire, she opened a GoFundMe account to help cover her losses. She said community members have helped her, and co-workers collected donations for her at the mine.

School has been difficult for her daughter, who is in Grade 2 and is getting teased about no longer having a home, Sandy said.

“That kind of hurt,” she said.

At three years old, her son isn’t old enough to go to school and Sandy doesn’t think he realizes yet what has happened.

“But he has been inseparable from my daughter,” she said.

With all the challenges she is facing, Sandy said she is doing alright. She has kept the perspective that it could have been worse.

“I could have gone home realizing I lost my whole family,” Sandy said.

“I’m happy for that.”


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