Residents of Nunavut community fight burning tundra
“Not in my lifetime,” Chesterfield Inlet mayor says
A tundra fire ignited by lightning has had the people of Chesterfield Inlet on edge for the past few days.
The fire — about 60 metres (200 feet) long— started about six kilometres from town about a week and a half ago when an unusual amount of lightning struck.
Chesterfield Inlet’s mayor, Harry Aggark, said it’s the first time he’s ever seen lightning start a fire on the tundra, calling it “very strange.”
“Not in my lifetime,” Aggark said.
“When it started, the fire department went up to put it out. But then more lightning struck the ground and it started the fire again,” Aggark said.
“[It] started in one area and the wind kept shifting from west [to] east and it spread in all different directions,” he said.
The fire spread, with plumes of smoke visible from the community of 350.
No roads led to the fire, which means fire trucks were unable reach it.
That meant the members of the fire department had to ride up to the fire on all-terrain vehicles, carrying rakes and shovels with which they tried to extinguish the fire.
Community residents and Canadian Rangers also helped fight the fire.
Aggark said light rain and fog extinguished most of the fire by Aug. 29, but people in Chesterfield Inlet have spotted smoke coming from the area since.
“There’s still a bit of smoke and there’s a bit of wind and it’s dry again today, so we’ll keep an eye out for the spot to see if it will start up,” Aggark said.
Rain was in the forecast for Sept. 2 in Chesterfield Inlet. Until then, the community continued to see mainly sunny skies and temperatures reaching the high-teens over the weekend.