Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation declares state of emergency after fire destroys water plant

The Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation has declared a state of emergency after their water treatment plant was totally lost in a fire on Monday night. A band member was also found dead Monday after going missing while snowmobiling.

Community was already mourning band member found dead Monday

The Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation's water treatment plant is a total loss according to band councillor Shawn Spencer. (Submitted by Jay Bouchard)

A band councillor from the Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation confirmed that the reserve has declared a state of emergency after a fire destroyed the water treatment plant there.

Shawn Spencer said in a Facebook post that homes in the immediate area of the fire were evacuated due to potential toxic materials that put residents at risk.

"We have Fire trucks and Police on scene," his post read. "Families near please make your way to the Community Hall for Safety."

'Total loss'

Spencer said in an interview that the water treatment plant was a total loss.

He said chief and council are working to figure out how to ensure residents have access to clean water.

"The store in our community was sold out of water within half an hour of when the fire had started, so people were already concerned," Spencer said.

He said people have been leaving the reserve to go and get water from neighbouring towns and Regina.

Spencer noted people from elsewhere have already reached out to the community to offer help. He encouraged anyone who wants to bring water to the community to drop it off at the community hall.

"We will be meeting with INAC, [Department of Indigenous Services], the Red Cross and our insurance company."

No criminal suspicions as of yet

File Hills First Nations Police Service Chief Lennard Busch said the fire started around 9:30 p.m. CST Monday.

The Carry the Kettle band manager discovered the fire, according to Busch.

Busch said the water treatment plant is in the core area of the reserve.

The community is now working to ensure residents have access to water.

"I know they're having a meeting there shortly down in the community to talk about the water crisis," Busch said.

"I know they've reached out to other communities who have had suffered the same kind of misfortune to see what their plans were and who their contacts were."

Spencer confirmed the band will be reaching out to Piapot First Nation, which had its water plant burn down last year, about how to successfully get water back in the community.

Tough few days for community: Police chief

Busch noted the community has suffered a series of unfortunate blows in the last few days.

Daniel James Spencer, 33, was found deceased roughly three kilometres away from the Carry the Kettle band offices just before noon on Monday.

Police said Spencer is believed to have died from hypothermia, but a coroner's report is still needed to confirm the cause of death.

"The community seems to be taking one hit after another, and we're going to do whatever we can to support them," Busch said.

Shawn Spencer said the man's death isn't the only one the community is coping with right now.

"It was not just Danny Spencer that we lost, we lost a couple more members, just before Danny," He said. "One of them was Kurt Spencer, who was Danny's uncle, and my uncle, and another community member lost his life."

Spencer said that when they lose a community member, they band together to support one another. 

With files from Cory Coleman