Fire eats into Fort Simpson, N.W.T. spring food supplies

A fire that destroyed the Northern Store’s spring stockpile of food in Fort Simpson, N.W.T. was one of a string of small fires in the community early Sunday morning.
A fire at the Northern store in Fort Simpson has destroyed the Northern store’s spring stockpile of dry goods, just days after the ice bridge over the Liard River was closed for the season. (Twitter)

A fire that destroyed the Northern Store’s spring stockpile of food in Fort Simpson, N.W.T. was one of a string of small fires in the community early Sunday morning.

All were in close proximity and all happened just after 5 a.m.

Garbage cans were set on fire close to the Bompas Elementary School, the Liidii Kue band office and the post office.

But the fire that took most effort to extinguish, and caused the most damage, was the one behind the Northern Store that burnt two storage shacks to the ground.

The buildings contained food stockpiled for spring break-up, when rivers intersecting roads on the north and south sides of the community become impassable.

Scott Whitmore, a lieutenant with the Fort Simpson Volunteer Fire Department, says it took 11 firefighters an hour and a half to put out the fire.

“The wooden building was completely destroyed and a metal building was damaged,” Whitmore says. “Whether it can be salvaged or not, I'm not sure.”

Dean Pickering, the community's senior administrative officer, says all the food stored in the buildings burned up.   

The Fort Simpson Fire Marshal is now investigating.

The fire broke out just days after the ice bridge over the Liard River south of Fort Simpson closed for the season. The Lafferty Ferry, which runs the route in summer, doesn’t usually open until around May 13.

The Northern Store is Fort Simpson's main grocery store, although there is a convenience store that sells groceries in the community.