Iqaluit dump fire put out 10 hours later, cause still unknown

It took 13 firefighters and additional public works staff 10 hours to put out a dump fire in Iqaluit. Water deliveries that were temporarily put on hold as trucks were diverted to the fire have now resumed.

Water truck deliveries, suspended during the fire, have started up again

A fire at Iqaluit's landfill caused a brief disruption in city water delivery April 6. (Submitted by Richard Maheu)

City officials in Iqaluit are still looking into what caused a fire at the city's landfill site in the early hours of Wednesday morning. 

It took 13 firefighters, and additional public works staff, 10 hours to put out the fire, which covered a 10-by 10-metre area, said the city's fire chief Steve McGean.

Water trucks from the city helped put out the fire and water deliveries were temporarily paused, but McGean says those have now started up again. 

McGean says an excavator, city loaders and three water trucks helped fight the fire, while the Iqaluit airport provided a safe spice for firefighters to warm up and hydrate in shifts.

McGean says the fire was toward the back end of the land fill, near the road that goes to the deep sea port. Firefighters cut through a section of fence to get access to the fire. 

"We dug down fairly deep. We went in very close with water. We didn't see any more signs of heat. And also, we had a thermal imaging camera which will show us hotspots in the ground," he said.   

A file photo of Iqaluit's landfill. (David Gunn/CBC)

The city's senior administrative officer, Amy Elgersma, said the fire was called in by a city resident. 

"This is, of course, very concerning given some of the history that Iqaluit has with some previous landfill fires. But the crews responded quickly and with some really great teamwork… they were able to extinguish the fire," she said.

Elgersma referred to the last big fire at the city's dump in 2018, but city residents will also recall the 2014 fire that burned for about three months, earning the nickname "dumpcano." 

McGean said the landfill and the road to the deep water port remain closed while city crews mend the section of fence that had to be taken down to fight the fire.