NIC chief’s house gutted by fire last weekend


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT – The Nunavut Implementation Commission’s chief commissioner, John Amagoalik, suffered second degree burns on both hands last weekend in a fire that caused extensive damage to the inside of his house.

Iqaluit fire chief Neville Wheaton says his department received the called at 11:07 Friday evening. He said Amagoalik was the only one in the house at the time and he managed to get out of the front door.

“It appears an ashtray was dumped into the garbage can, or a cigarette butt was thrown in,” Wheaton said of the apparent cause of the fire. “The contents in the garbage set it on fire, and then set fire to the mattress.”

Amagoalik suffered burns to his hands. “I got second degree burns on both my thumbs. But that’s about the extent of it. It’s not too bad. I don’t feel any pain.”

He said he and his family moved to another place earlier this week.

Wheaton says they don’t know what the extent of the damage is. He says the porch, the stairwell and the ceiling all sustained damage, and there was a fair amount of heat damage both upstairs and downstairs.

He says accidental fires like this are quite common. “A lot of the people assume, if the ashtray hasn’t been used in a while, then they think the cigarette butts are cold and in a lot of instances, it takes a long time for butts to cool down in the ashtray.”

Wheaton suggests using metal ashtrays or disposing of the butts in the toilet.

Iqaluit firefighters attended the blaze until shortly after one in the morning.

Donation drive to help family

Simon Awa, the NIC’s executive director, said anyone who wants to donate items to help the Amagoalik family may bring them to the NIC office at building 987 in Iqaluit.

People who want information about how to help may phone him at either 979-4199 or 979-3669.

He also said accounts will be set up at the Northern store and the Royal Bank for those who wish to make cash donations.

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