Twenty-four Nunavut government employees and their families are without a home Thursday, after the Iqaluit apartment building they were living in burned to the ground early in the morning.

How you can help

Iqaluit residents can drop off donations of small household items at Inukshuk High school until 8 p.m. on Thursday, and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Another donation centre will be open Friday at the GN Staff Housing Warehouse, located near the entrance to Sylvia Grinnell Park, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Apex residents can drop off donations at Nanook School on Friday.

The following items are particularly needed:

  • Bed sheets, blankets, pillowcases, duvets, comforters
  • New pillows
  • Bath towels
  • Small appliances like kettles, coffee makers and toasters
  • Kitchen items like pots, pans, utensils, dishes and cutlery
  • New personal hygiene products like toothbrushes, soap and shampoo
  • Clothes in all sizes
  • Non-perishable food items

The CIBC bank branch in Iqaluit is accepting cash donations.

The blaze at Building 4100, located in the city's Road to Nowhere subdivision, started around 1:30 a.m. ET, according to fire officials.

"There was a fire on the outside of the structure. RCMP and fire crews had evacuated the tenants that were inside at the time," Iqaluit fire Chief Chris Wilson told CBC News.

"Unfortunately, the fire worked its way within the structure, the void spaces, in between the floors, and unfortunately the building became fully involved and all was lost."

RCMP and fire officials say no one was injured. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Homes, belongings lost

A total of roughly 60 people lived in the 29-unit apartment building, which was staff housing for 24 territorial civil servants, the Nunavut government has confirmed.

"Our hearts go out to all of those government of Nunavut employees and their families left homeless by this fire. Their most immediate need is shelter," Premier Eva Aariak said in a release Thursday afternoon.

"The Nunavut Housing Corp. will be able to arrange alternate staff housing for all of them in short order, and we will ensure that they have access to hotels or other interim accommodation in the meantime," she added.

The displaced tenants were asked to attend a meeting at 7 p.m. at the Nova Inn to discuss what will happen next.

Tenant Danielle Steele said she and her father lost their home and their belongings in the fire.

"It's kind of hard to get access to most of these things here," Steele said. "If you do, it's pretty expensive."

Meanwhile, Iqaluit residents were quick to help out the displaced tenants. Many donated small household items at a drop-off centre set up at Inukshuk High School on Thursday.

As crews continue to deal with the fire, deputy fire chief Blain Wiggins said people living next door, in Building 4102, are being asked not to go home at least until 7 p.m.

"The fire is definitely under control, it is limited to the 4100 building. But because of … the structure collapse, it's just a matter of persistence to completely put it out," Wiggins said.