Nunavut saw double the amount of fires in 2020 compared to past 2 years

Fire marshal’s annual report came out in September

This house fire in Iqaluit is one of 131 the territory saw in 2020. (File photo by Dustin Patar)

By Thomas Rohner
Special to Nunatsiaq News

Nunavut saw nearly twice as many fires in 2020 compared to each of the two previous years, according to the 2020 annual report of the territorial fire marshal’s office.

That report was tabled in the fall siting of the legislative assembly in September.

Last year there were 131 fires across the territory compared to 73 and 71 in the two previous years, respectively.

Of the 131 fires last year, 44 per cent, or 58 fires, were “incendiary.”

An incendiary fire means “a fire that is intentionally ignited in an area or under circumstances where and when there should not be a fire,” the report said. Some incendiary fires are acts of arson.

Of the 58 incendiary fires, 17 of them, or about 30 per cent, were set by youth, according to the report.

Reported fires in Nunavut over the last 10 years have decreased by 41 per cent, according to the fire marshal’s office.

But Nunavut’s rates of overall fires and incendiary fires is still much higher than the national average, according to Statistics Canada data.

Statistics Canada conducted a 10-year survey of fire marshal data from across the country that covered the years 2005 to 2014. The data was released in 2017.

According to that data, the national average of fires per year in Canada was just under 21,000. The number of incendiary fires was just over 3,100 per year.

In Nunavut, similar data is available for the 10 most recent years, 2011 to 2020.

The average number of fires in Nunavut over that time was 127 per year, and the number of incendiary fires was about 36 per year.

Adjusted for population, Nunavut’s rate of per capita fires in the 10-year period ending in 2020 was about 5.5 times higher than the 10-year national average ending in 2014.

And Nunavut’s rate of incendiary fires per capita was more than 10 times higher in the 10-year period ending in 2020 compared to the national average in the 10-year period ending in 2014.

Over the last decade, the peak months for fires in Nunavut are the summer months: June, July and August.

In 2020 the dollar value at risk from fires increased because of the “larger type of buildings” such as schools, where fire incidents took place, the report said.

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Shatter on

    Would be nice to know how many of these fires were a result of creating shatter cannabis extract from butane. Also, would be nice to know how many were in public housing and arson related. I’ve noticed its very rare for them to fix burnt down units in Nunavut. Instead they just bored up the windows and ignore them.

  2. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    shatter is one of the worst drugs that is plaguing our Communities. an incredibly harmful drug that is right up there with meth and cocaine.

    people say “ah it’s just concentrated marijuana”

    well our marijuana that is out there is not your Grampas or The Truths from San Andreas. it’s a nasty drug that’s laced with who knows what. if you are going to smoke, get it from a dispensary.

    shatter is a vile scary drug. you see people being medevac’d out to Yellowknife and Edmonton because they are smoking so much shatter trying to chase the high because normal weed just doesn’t do it anymore.

  3. Posted by Umingmak on

    I don’t think it’s any kind of coincidence that these statistics jumped by such an enormous amount at the same time that lockdowns and travel restrictions began.

    The restrictions brought in have caused these kinds of problems all across Canada. The worst pandemic going on right now is a mental health pandemic.


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