Pond Inlet offers $1,000 reward for information on suspected arsons
Favourite spot for cruise travellers nearly went up in flames over the weekend
The hamlet of Pond Inlet is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of whoever started a fire at the community’s gazebo.
Photos posted on social media by the hamlet’s chief administrative officer David Stockley show a wooden trash bin engulfed in flames, with plumes of black smoke streaming into the ceiling of the gazebo next to it.
The fire was discovered around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, Stockley said in an interview. A passerby moved the wooden trash bin away from the main structure. About 1.5 metres of the structure was damaged, however.
Preliminary damage assessments indicate the gazebo can be repaired and will not need to be torn down. But the cost of the repair has not been determined, Stockley said.
The gazebo was built last year, after Pond Inlet received $500,000 in funding as part Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency’s decision to inject money into the North’s beleaguered tourist economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pond Inlet is a cruise ship destination and was hit hard by the two-year ban on cruising during the global pandemic. The gazebo cost $20,000 to build, according to Stockley.
This is the third suspicious fire in as many days. A few days before, a shed and wooden boat were burnt in suspicious fires. Stockley believes these may be more than random accidents.
“Is there something out there happening? Is someone getting a kick out of starting fires?” he said.
The gazebo is located on Contemplation Hill, “because that’s where a lot of residents [go] to relax and contemplate,” Stockley said in an email.
The year-old gazebo is important to the community, he noted. Elders come to visit.
“It has a fantastic view of the mountains.”
Cruise ship passengers often visit to take photos because it is so picturesque. Some former visitors even reached out to Stockley to express their dismay when news of the fire first broke on social media, he said.
“It’s just so sad that this would happen,” Stockley said.
After this third fire, the hamlet fears an escalation and has decided to offer $1,000 to anyone who can provide information leading to an arrest.
At least one person from the community stepped forward and provided names of possible suspects to the hamlet. Those names have been passed on to the RCMP to aid its investigation.
Nunatsiaq News reached out to Pond Inlet RCMP for comment, but did not receive a response.
Anyone with information about the fires is asked to contact either the hamlet or the RCMP.