Fire closes school in Kuujjuaraapik
Police in Kuujjuaraapik said dark smoke was pouring out of the windows of Asimautaq School and a few flames were visible as firefighters tried to battle a fire in the local school on Wednesday morning.
“Everyone’s going flat out,” said Brian Jones, chief of the Kativik Regional Police Force, who was in Kuujjuaq monitoring the situation.
Firefighters and fire equipment from Kuujjuaraapik and the neighbouring Cree community of Whapmagoostui were already on the scene when the Kuujjuaraapik’s KRPF detachment received a call around 8 a.m. that the school was on fire.
The fire, thought to have started in the school’s kitchen, had spread to the gymnasium by midday.
No students were in the school when the fire broke out.
The $5-million school, that serves 152 students from kindergarten through high school, was recently renovated.
“We’re going to have to find temporary classrooms as soon as possible,” said Debbie Astroff, spokesperson for the Kativik Regional School Board.
Firefighters in Kuujjuaraapik and Whapmagoostui have dealt with other major fires in the twin communities over the past few years.
In October 2001, a fire severely damaged the Hydro-Québec power plant that supplies electricity to both communities. It caused a blackout that lasted from Monday to Thursday. It was the third time in less than six months that firefighters had rushed to douse flames at their shared power plant.