Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut June 25, 2014 - 1:58 pm

Rankin Inlet’s landfill fire, the second in Nunavut, still smoulders

Hamlet crews hope to smother the fire once area is safe to access

SARAH ROGERS
A fire broke out at the landfill in Rankin Inlet June 24, causing explosions and sending black smoke over the Hudson Bay community. (PHOTO BY DOUG MCLARTY/ARCTECH DESIGN)
A fire broke out at the landfill in Rankin Inlet June 24, causing explosions and sending black smoke over the Hudson Bay community. (PHOTO BY DOUG MCLARTY/ARCTECH DESIGN)

(Updated at 4:00 p.m.)

Rankin Inlet’s landfill continued to smoulder June 25 after a fire broke out there a day earlier.

A wind-change during the lunch hour sent smoke through the older part of the community. By early afternoon, the wind shifted and sent smoke towards the airport, creating poor visibility in that part of town, although officials say that hasn’t disrupted air traffic as of yet.

The fire started in the local dump mid-afternoon June 24. By early evening, the fire was sending black smoke over the community.

Residents reported explosions coming from the site through the evening, possibly from improperly stored propane tanks.

Fire crews were able to douse sections of the fire overnight, but parts of the landfill are still smoking, said Rankin Inlet’s deputy mayor, Sam Tutanuak, who held a council meeting early June 25 to discuss the fire. Officials believe the landfill could have been smouldering all winter before the fire broke out June 24.

Fire fighters and hamlet staff continue to monitor the site, which is located on the outskirts of the community.

“Right now, the fire seems to be under control,” said Justin Merritt, the hamlet’s acting senior administrative officer. “When it’s safe enough to get in, crews are going to try and smother the area with gravel.”

The hamlet has asked residents, and especially children, to stay clear of the area until the fire is out, and to close windows if you live in an area impacted by the smoke.

Residents who might be having breathing problems as a result of the smoke should call the health centre, Merritt said, which has masks available for those who need them.

The weather in Rankin Inlet has been sunny and warm, with temperatures in the high teens and low twenties Celsius since last week. Environment Canada forecast 20 km per hour northwest winds for June 25.

Rankin Inlet’s dump fire is the second in Nunavut. the Iqaluit landfill fire, dubbed Dumpcano, has been burning inside Nunavut’s capital since May 20.

Merritt said the hamlet has been in communication with Iqaluit on how to tackle the fire.

At a city council meeting last night, Iqaluit’s fire chief proposed fanning the fire’s flames to accelerate the burn, in hopes of burning the pile to the ground faster.

“Because I know if it burns harder, it’s going to dissipate less smoke,” said fire chief Luc Grandmaison.

That process, which also has the support of the Government of Nunavut, would involve shoving a pipe into the dump fire to introduce more air.

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