Cleanup of Yellowknife Bay houseboat destroyed by fire underway

Two people escaped a burning houseboat Wednesday. Police say one was taken to Stanton hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police say the fire is not considered suspicious

This houseboat was destroyed by a fire early Wednesday morning. (Avery Zingel/CBC)

Police say two people escaped a fire that destroyed a houseboat on Yellowknife Bay Wednesday morning, and one was taken to Stanton Hospital for treatment. 

Houseboat neighbour, Richard McIntosh, woke up when the two people who escaped the fire came to his houseboat.

The fire was already severe by the time they could call emergency services.

"When somebody loses their house to fire it's deeply saddening," he said. 

Once McIntosh determined both people and their two dogs escaped safely, they focused on whether the fire would spread to Jolliffe Island, or neighbouring houseboats — including his own. 

He says the wind was in their favour that morning and was too weak to spread the fire.

Police confirmed the flames were out of control by the time first responders arrived to the area, which is across from the government dock in Old Town.

By 4:15 a.m. the houseboat was completely engulfed.

RCMP and firefighters remained on the the government docks, unable to reach the fire across the ice. 

It burned for several hours and by the early morning, was merely scrap metal. 

Fire personnel remained on shore monitoring the fire, as it smoldered. 

Police say they are helping the fire marshal with an investigation, but the cause of the fire is not considered suspicious. 

N.W.T. fire marshal Chucker Dewar said the houseboat is so damaged that it will limit the investigation to photographs and interviews with witnesses.

As of Wednesday afternoon, his office had not spoken with either of the people who escaped the fire.

A water resources officer with the N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources inspected the site on Wednesday and "found no signs of hydrocarbon contamination," said department spokesperson, Meagan Wohlberg. 

"It appears all hydrocarbons were removed from the boat before the fire got out of control," she wrote in an e-mail.

Residents told the department they are working to immediately remove the debris. 

"[The department] does not assist in cleanup efforts but will monitor the cleanup as it occurs," she said. 

The department will conduct a final inspection of the site once the cleanup is complete.

With files from Avery Zingel