Fire destroys historic Polaris Theatre in Inuvik, N.W.T.

People in Inuvik, N.W.T. gathered to share memories as one of the community’s oldest buildings was destroyed by fire yesterday.
The old Polaris Theatre, one of the original buildings in Inuvik, N.W.T. was destroyed by flames yesterday. People in the community gathered to share memories as fire crews worked. (David Thurton/CBC)

People in Inuvik, N.W.T. gathered yesterday to share memories as they watched flames destroy one of the community’s oldest buildings.

The building has been abandoned for some time, but once housed the Polaris Theatre, a bowling alley and an arcade. Most recently, it housed Alforno’s restaurant.

“Used to play foosball there,” said Frank Smith just after lunchtime yesterday. “Kind of have a little bit of memory there.”

“I watched Dracula there when it first came out,” Ruth Wright recalls. “I ran out the door and thought, 'I'm going to see Father Ed and get some holy water.'”

Talal Al-Khatib is the owner of the building.

“It’s one of the original buildings in town. I feel sad to see it go,” he says.

Witnesses say the fire began Saturday just after lunch. Flames and smoke were first seen rising from the second floor.

As the fire progressed, flames and the pressure of hoses slowly consumed and weakened the structure of the building.

That caused chunks of the wooden roof and the sides of the building to cave in.

An excavator was brought in and began demolishing the building.

With a smouldering pile of rubble left fire hoses kept pouring water to dampen the flames still burning underneath.

The cause of the fire remains a mystery.

The fire department declined to comment, or say whether they are investigating.

Watch twins Annamay Andre and Amanda Niditchie, watching the fire: