Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik September 22, 2016 - 1:10 pm

Nunavik community faces $5 million in material losses from fires

"Our fires are happening at home with things that should be put out of reach"

SARAH ROGERS
A Puvirnituq firefighter sits in the community's new fire truck in 2012. The community has lost $5.6 million in infrastructure due to fires over the last five years. (FILE PHOTO)
A Puvirnituq firefighter sits in the community's new fire truck in 2012. The community has lost $5.6 million in infrastructure due to fires over the last five years. (FILE PHOTO)

Among Nunavik’s 14 communities, Puvirnituq suffered some of the highest material loss from fires over the last five years.

Between 2011 and 2015, the Hudson coast community saw 45 fires, which translated into an estimated material loss of $5.6 million.

“In Puvirnituq, the loss of buildings is way higher than in other Nunavik communities,” said Craig Lingard, coordinator for civil security at the Kativik Regional Government.

The only community that saw a greater financial loss over that period was Aupaluk, which lost its only school March 2014.

The estimated material loss of the original school is about $16 million. A newly-constructed school opened this year.

Over five years, the region lost an estimated $25.7 million worth of infrastructure—unusually high due to the Aupaluk’s school fire.

Since the KRG began tracking fire statistics, little has changed in terms of how fires are being started.

“If we look at where our fires are starting, most of them are at home,” Lingard told KRG meetings last week.

“The source of the heat is lighters or smokers materials, or other careless or avoidable causes. Our fires are happening at home with things that should be put out of reach.”

And fires continue to happen most often over the weekend—most often on Fridays—and at a higher frequency in the summer.

“As we go forward, we’ll be tailoring our prevention efforts to the summer months,” Lingard said.

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