2 dead after massive Iqaluit blaze

Two people are dead after a fire ripped through a row of houses in Iqaluit Sunday night.

(Wayne Rivers/APTN photo)

APTN National News
At least two people are dead after a fire ripped through a housing complex in Iqaluit Sunday night, Nunavut’s coroner’s office said.

RCMP investigators probing blaze are treating it as suspicious.

The fire also left many homeless, including about 53 children.

The Nunavut coroner’s office said at least two people died in the fire which hit the city’s 300 block of rowhouses.

The RCMP, however, would not confirm whether anyone died in the blaze. The RCMP said they need additional forensic identification help to sift through the charred and frozen remains of the houses. Police said they are still trying to account for all the residents of the housing complex.

The fire is being treated as suspicious and the investigation is ongoing, said the RCMP.

All but one of the 22 three-bedroom units in the sector destroyed by fire were occupied by Nunavut Arctic College students and their families, APTN National News confirmed.

Mary Pijamini said all she could grab before fleeing her home was her wallet and cell phone.

“I was so scared,” said Pijamini.

Pijamini said she heard the fire alarm ringing sometime after 9 p.m. Sunday while she was in the bathroom with one of her children.

She said her other child, who is 11, was looking out the window at the same time and said, “We have to go.”

Now, the family is among dozens left homeless by the deadly fire.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, whose riding includes Iqaluit, issued a statement calling for the community to come together, pray and support each other.

“I am deeply saddened by news of this tragic fire in Iqaluit,” said Aglukkaq. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are affected.”

Firefighters battled the blaze in temperatures approaching -50 Celsius Sunday night as a result of the wind chill.

More to come

Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.