Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Fire of 2008

It's easy to make jokes about buying marshmallows or having a caribou roast. Hell, I have a lot of problems with the administration of our local co-op and the decisions they make. But when you get down to it, they are a very major employer in town (including one of my daughters), they are "owned" by the members (including me), and the larger source of consumer goods in a very isolated community.

So when the whole complex goes up in smoke, it is a major concern for residents. Not only did we lose the larger grocery store, but we lost our post office (and my printer inks therein), our cable television distribution, our bank, our point of sale for Inuit artists, our fuel distribution administration, and a whole host of other important services.

I did not go down to see it burn - we were having a blizzard and I feel that the morbidly curious only interfere with efforts to contain the blaze. Also, if there are any heroes in a losing effort it has to be our local volunteer fire department, who contended with 100 kph winds, almost zero visibility, exploding tanks and ammo, minus 45 C windchill, a contorted maze of buildings, the evacuation and protection of many houses downwind, darkness and a fire which would not go out. I take my nassak off to every one of them. Personally, I would have bailed.

Unlike southern communities, there are no leaseable facilities available. And building from scratch means waiting for open water (July) before the first ship cannot come in with materials. Coping with a problem of this magnitude, therefore, requires different organizations coming together to find solutions. Our local community centre operated by the municipality, therefore, is going to become a temporary store for the next half year or so I believe.

Heaven only knows about the post office. For now, Canada Post is holding our mail up indefinitely in Kuujjuaq. Could we be going back to the old days of dog sled delivery? Wouldn't make all that much difference, actually, the bastards.

There are two things I hope we learn from this: from the Great London Fire of 1666, the Great Chicago Fire, the Great San Francisco Fire, and so on, is don't place buildings too close together; and let's pitch in together despite our differences, and help each other to build a better community.

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Blogger Brian said...

Sorry to hear of your communities lose of a major building to fire.
We had a similar lose several years ago, still not over it. It was a major office complex [formally a school] in town; a hodge podge of additions made by the school boards over the years, none the less it is missed, many artifacts and archival material was also lost.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Good Evening Nanuk
Thank you for you kind words and nassak to our fire dept. I am the volunteer chief and I have to say at no time during the 11 and a half hour s at the blaze, not even for a second did we have any thoughts of leaving the area even after the explosion when 3 firefighters were either thrown a few feet away or debris hitting them did we want to bail. It was a battle which we almost lost but we did save a number of buildings even thou we lost the coop and warehouses.
Thank you for the compliment and I will pass this on to my (our)team of volunteers.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Eternally Curious said...

Awww crap Nanuk! That's a big loss, for everyone! I, too, hope you can all come together to build anew, and find renewed community together. I couldn't tell from your post (maybe I'm just dense): was anyone seriously hurt? I saw the fire chief's comment about some fire fighters being hurt. That sucks. I do hope no one was seriously hurt - that it was mostly only property damage.

9:43 AM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Brian - thanks for your kind words. Things are beginning to take shape again - we'll actually have door-to-door mail service. Actually, the concept has me frightened.

Michael - again, what a job you guys did! Let's hope we learn about building and lot design so we won't be faced with the same inferno.

e.t. - no one was injured to any extent, thank God. The town is pulling together, but we face even greater obstacles in dealing with global warming and/or climate change.

7:56 AM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Didn't know igloos could burn - melting I could see...

Honey run down to the store and get me some milk and a box of aught-6 catridges.

1:16 PM  

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