Nunavut's fire marshal reports higher than average number of fires in 2020

There were 131 fires in Nunavut in 2020, resulting in two deaths, six injuries and $5.7 million in losses.

The 131 fires in Nunavut in 2020 is more than the average 127, substantially up from the 73 last year

Firefighters in Iqaluit work to extinguish a fire. In 2020, Nunavut experienced 131 fires, which resulted in two deaths, six injuries and $5.7 million in damages, according to the territorial fire marshal's annual report. (Patrick Nagle/CBC )

There were 131 fires in Nunavut in 2020, resulting in two deaths, six injuries and $5.7 million in losses.

According to the territorial fire marshal office's report, which was tabled last week in the Nunavut Legislature, nearly all of the fires were linked to smoking, open flames, stoves and heaters.

It said all deaths and injuries involved "smokers' materials" or open flames.

The report indicated the number of fires was higher than the annual average of 127 fires over the past 10 years, and up from 2019, when there were 73 reported fires.

The report also noted an increase in the cost of the properties at risk, which rose from $131.7 million in 2019 to $579.3 million in 2020.

This was due to the larger type of buildings, such as schools, where the fires occurred, the report said.

No natural fires took place in Nunavut in 2020.


Of the 131 fires, a cause could not be found for 22 per cent of them. Thirty-four per cent of the fires were found to be accidental and 44 per cent were intentionally set.

The report stated that youth under 18 were found to be responsible for 17 of the intentionally set fires, about a third of them, and that they caused $475,820 in damages.

Of the total number of fires, 66 were related to smoking and open flames. These kinds of fires caused total losses of $3.76 million.

The 57 residential fires accounted for losses of $2.9 million.

Most fires took place from May to September.

Iqaluit reported the most fires, with 32, followed by Igloolik with 14 and Rankin Inlet with 11. 

Cambridge Bay experienced nine fires in 2020, one of which destroyed the home of a family, five of whom were inside when firefighters responded on Dec. 1.

That fire marked the largest structural fire that the western Nunavut hamlet of about 2,000 had seen in years.