Two Alberta companies are in Iqaluit, Nunavut this week trying to put out a fire that has been burning in the city dump for nearly four months.
Global Forensics from Red Deer and Hellfire Suppression Services from Rocky Mountain House are in the territory to put out the burning pile of garbage locals have nicknamed the “dumpcano.”
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Mike Noblett with Global Forensics says the fire is challenging for several reasons.
“The problem is it's kind of like a honeycomb,” he said.
‘It's just burning in channels and lines inside and as we dig through the pile we find these burning areas within the mound itself.”
There is no highway access from southern Canada into Iqaluit, which is on the southern part of Baffin Island.
That means about 65,000 pounds of specialized firefighting equipment had to be flown in from Alberta, including nearly six kilometres of hose, fire pumps and nozzles.
Senior firefighter Ryan Stambaugh is one of eight people from Hellfire Suppression Services now in Iqaluit.
His company’s expertise is fighting unusual fires in oilfields and landfills as well as blowout control and recovery.
While the Iqaluit ‘dumpcano” is like any other landfill fire, Stambaugh says the remote location makes it more difficult to fight
“It's just the logistics part of it, everything has to either be flown in or shipped in, and you have a small shipping window," he said.
“The same with the flights -- you have a small window to get equipment in and out.”
The different materials found inside a landfill also makes the progression of the fire somewhat unpredictable, Stambaugh said.
Iqaluit city council initially decided to let the fire burn because it would use too much potable water to put it out.
That decision was reversed weeks later over health concerns about the smoke.
In July, health officials warned women of child-bearing age to stay indoors and keep away from the fire as much as possible.