Power not yet fully restored to Pangnirtung

The Nunavut government and Qulliq Energy Corp. said Friday morning that crews are still working to restore full power to the hamlet of approximately 1,600 people, where only partial power has been restored.

Extra generators sent to hamlet of 1,600 people, while 14 medical patients evacuated to Iqaluit

A fire at the local power plant has led to a community-wide power outage in the Nunavut community of Pangnirtung. (Submitted by David Kilabuk)

The Government of Nunavut and Qulliq Energy Corp., the territory's power provider, are still asking residents of Pangnirtung, Nunavut, to conserve power for basic necessities as crews continue to work on restoring full power to the community. 

In an update released Friday morning, the territorial government said the power corp. is trying to rotate power in the hamlet at four-hour intervals, until power is fully restored to the community of approximately 1,600 people.

"Four-hour intervals allow for sufficient time for boilers and homes to heat, stores to open and the airport to accommodate incoming flights," said Hillary Casey, an information officer with the territory's Emergency Management division.

A fire at the local power plant early Thursday morning created community-wide power outages and prompted the hamlet to declare a state of emergency.  

The Office of the Fire Marshall is expected to assess the damage done to the power plant — and investigate the cause of the fire — "in the coming days," according to the release.  

The territory's Department of Health evacuated 14 patients to Iqaluit for continuing care on Thursday.

Another update from the government is expected Saturday morning. 

The Northwest Territories Power Corporation is airlifting two mobile generators to the community. The Nunavut government says the extra generators will help relieve strain on the power corp.'s backup generators and provide support to Pangnirtung's airport and health centre.

The government's Emergency Management division also sent smaller stand-alone power generators, and flew mechanical staff to Pangnirtung to set them up, on Thursday. 

Northern Property REIT, which owns 30 residential units in the community, has sent nine generators, along with a technician and supplies, says Linay Freda, a regional manager for the company.  

"Loss of power in the community, in the North, in the winter time is a very serious situation," said Ed Zebedee, the territory's director of protection services in Iqaluit. The community relies entirely on the power plant that generates electricity from diesel fuel. 

Temperatures are forecast to hit a low of -17 C late Friday evening. 

An emergency warming shelter was opened Thursday at Attagoyuk Ilisavik School, where there is backup power. A few other buildings in the community also have backup power, but the rest are cold and dark. The 795 Iqaluit Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets has supplied the shelter with cots, mattresses and blankets.

"We opened the warming shelters very early this morning and people are starting to go there," Zebedee said. "We talked to the hamlet and they are getting food from the local stores so they can start feeding people."

Phone service updates to come

A media advisory from Northwestel Thursday said long distance and data services in Pangnirtung were expected to continue to degrade as backup batteries deplete, but its central office in the community currently has a stable power supply, which should allow local calling to continue to function. 

Northwestel is expected to provide service updates as they become available. 

"We have a bunch of satellite phones in the community with various government agencies and then we also have a couple with the hamlet," Zebedee said. "We have a response kit ready to go in with hand-held radios so that people can communicate between hamlet staff, bylaw officers, water truck people."

Members of the Canadian Rangers met Thursday morning to discuss the situation and went door-to-door to check on households, as well as warning people about potential dangers in their homes, such as carbon monoxide poisoning from using camping stoves or outdoor heating appliances indoors.

Fire began early in morning

The fire at the power plant began at about 1:30 a.m. ET on Thursday and crews were able to extinguish it.

Ezra Arnakaq, who lives in the community, said there was a lot of damage to the power plant.

"One of the exhaust vents has fallen in part way and there is extensive damage in there," he said.

Residents of Pangnirtung were asked to run taps regularly to ensure their pipes don't freeze, but to otherwise conserve water.


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