Iqaluit fire victims get Red Cross aid

A Red Cross aid shipment arrived in Iqaluit from Ottawa Tuesday to help dozens of people left homeless by a massive townhouse fire.
Dozens of people are homeless following the fire at a townhouse complex in Iqaluit Sunday night. (Paul Moore/CBC)

A Red Cross aid shipment arrived in Iqaluit from Ottawa Tuesday to help dozens of people left homeless by a massive townhouse fire.

The blaze raced through 22 units Sunday night in a complex commonly known as White Row. Some townhouse occupants escaped the fire with only the clothes on their backs.

On Monday, Nunavut's chief coroner said two people died in the fire, but the RCMP would not confirm the deaths.

Approximately 90 people survived, but are now homeless. Of those, more than 50 are youths aged five months to 18 years old.

"It's going to be, for these people, a fairly long recovery period," said Deborah Smith, a disaster management co-ordinator for the Red Cross branch in Ottawa.

"So what we're attempting to do is at least provide the basics of clothing and shelter, and making sure they've got comfort at the beginning while they get back on their feet," she said.

Boxes of aid arrive in Iqaluit

Red Cross volunteers in Ottawa spent all night gathering supplies for the people affected, such as blankets, bedding and pillows.

Red Cross workers in Ottawa put together boxes of aid, which were shipped Tuesday morning to Iqaluit. (Jaimie Kehler/CBC)

The First Air flight to Nunavut was expected to arrive early Tuesday afternoon with 43 boxes of aid.

Twenty of the 22 units in the townhouse complex were leased to Arctic College as student housing, officials said Monday.

Nearly all of the displaced students had housing Monday, college officials also said, while others found lodging in a local hotel.

An Ottawa-based Red Cross worker will also be deployed to Iqaluit to help co-ordinate a team of local volunteers to make sure everyone receives assistance.

"When we arrive it's going to be, I think, a logistics process," said Patricia Fuller, the worker being sent to the North.

"First of all, [I will make] sure that our supplies that we're sending up are received properly and distributed."

The team expected to start needs assessments Tuesday.