Fire in new office building quickly snuffed out

Iqaluit firefighters quickly extinguished a fire that broke out in a crawl space underneath a new Nunavut government office building that’s still under construction in Iqaluit.



IQALUIT — A fire temporarily halted construction on a new 2,475-square-meter Nunavut government office building in Iqaluit this week.

A small fire broke out in a crawl space below an elevator control room while a plumber soldered heating pipes, said Neville Wheaton, Iqaluit’s fire chief.

“There was a plumber soldering in a crawl space, and he set some foam insulation on fire, and that went to the structure around it,” Wheaton said.

Insulation foam and plywood within the crawl space caught fire, but the blaze was contained within the area.

Iqaluit firefighters were called to the site of the partially-constructed office building at 8:14 a.m. Monday morning.

When they arrived, the 19 firefighters saw a building filled with smoke, but no visible fire. Two firefighters, with breathing apparatus, entered the building to locate the fire. Another construction worker on site had tried to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher.

It took firefighters about 10 minutes to extinguish the fire.

Wheaton said the fire was an accident but he is now investigating to make sure the insulation foam was used according to national building code specifications.

“It may not have been used the way it was intended — I don’t know,” Wheaton said.

A preliminary report outlining the cause of the fire was to be filed with Nunavut’s fire marshal within 24 hours.

The building’s construction is a joint venture between Mikim Construction and Nova Construction Ltd., and is to be leased to the Nunavut government for office space.

Nova Construction owner Mike Mrdjenovich said all damage caused by the fire was repaired before the end of the day.

“We already cleaned up everything. It’s no problem, just a little bit of smoke damage in one room. It’s already ready to go,” he said.

Mrdjenovich estimated the damage at only “a few thousand (dollars)” and said the incident posed no set back to the building’s completion date.

“It could have been bad, that’s the bad thing,” Mrdjenovich said. Mrdjenovich said the building will be complete by April.

The Nunavut government plans to move between 120 to 140 jobs into the building this September.

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