Iqaluit firefighters' attack on dumpcano delayed another week

August 20 will mark the 3-month anniversary of Iqaluit's dump fire, but the latest estimate from the city's fire chief is that fire crews still won't be fighting the blaze. Meanwhile, some members of the public are wondering if the military could help.

August 20 will mark the 3-month anniversary of Iqaluit's dump fire

Iqaluit Fire Chief Luc Grandmaison speaks at a city council meeting Aug. 12. He says crews will begin fighting the city's dump fire during the week of Aug. 24. (Elyse Skura/CBC)

August 20 will mark the 3-month anniversary of Iqaluit's dumpcano, but according to the latest estimate by the city's fire chief, fire crews still won't be fighting the fire by that date. 

Last week, Luc Grandmaison estimated a firefighting operation could begin on Aug 18 or 20. Grandmaison now says if all goes as planned, fire crews will begin fighting the dump fire during the week of Aug. 24.

Grandmaison says the city still needs to hire a company to help extinguish the fire and more equipment needs to be flown up.

He also says fuel is set to be delivered to the city in the next few weeks and there can be no sparks in the air at that time.

The burning landfill is located on the same spit of land where the city's annual fuel supply is stored. A pipeline that moves the fuel from ships in Frobisher Bay to the tank farm passes right next to the dump. 

Could the military help?

Meanwhile, some members of the public are wondering if the military could help.

About 800 people will take part in Operation Nanook, an annual training exercise set to take place from August 21 to August 31. This year, the exercise will stage a mock cruise ship emergency on Frobisher Bay.

Anne Crawford is a part of Iqalummiut for Action, a group that formed in response to the fire.

She wants the city to meet with the military people in charge of the exercise to see if military personnel could help bring firefighting equipment from down South.

"They're going to be bringing a lot of airplanes in,” Crawford said. “I don't know if they're empty of full or whatever. Obviously only they know that. It's possible a meeting could identify ways where there could be significant assistance."

Public seeking information

Iqalummiut for Action also wants to see a public consultation where the city can answer questions from people in the community.

“We want to be able to work with you,” said Christa Kunuk, a member of the group. “As we said before, this is not just a council situation. It's a community situation."

Councillors agreed there should be a public meeting — but not right now. 

"The delegation asked for the landfill fire expert to be there,” Grandmaison said. “They also asked for the company that's going to fight the fire to be there. It cannot be before they arrive, if we want to share all of the information. That's what I believe. The company's not even hired yet."

Grandmaison says a meeting could be held in about two weeks, but there will be very little public notice.


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