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One month on, no news of what caused Hay River highrise fire

A file photo of Hay River's highrise from the summer of 2018. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

One month after a fire left Hay River’s highrise uninhabitable, displacing more than 100 people, police have “no further update” on what caused the incident.

Efforts to put out the 11th-floor fire left the building so damaged from a combination of fire, smoke, and water that months of renovation work is required before anyone can move back in.

The owner of the building, Harry Satdeo, has suggested in a newspaper advertisement he hopes to have “the situation corrected” by the start of June.

However, the possible presence of asbestos within the building’s construction materials may complicate repairs.



The NWT government said “it is not known at this time” when the building might reopen, though it added Satdeo had “indicated his intent to complete the repairs necessary.” The building was reportedly uninsured.

Last week, the territorial government said “some … immediate repairs” had begun. Tenants of the building were also granted a second, short window in which to their abandoned homes and recover belongings.

“The focus now more broadly is working with tenants and potential housing options in the community to try to identify interim housing solutions that are adequate for the tenants’ needs,” Eleanor Young, deputy minister at the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), wrote to Cabin Radio.

“The NWT Housing Corporation is leading that work for the GNWT and is posting options available for tenants’ consideration as well as offering support through some of its housing programs.



“The Department of Education, Culture, and Employment is also assisting its clients in things such as security deposits so that those housing options can be accessible to income support clients.”

The housing corporation is also “accelerating required repairs to several housing units within the Hay River Reserve,” MACA said in a statement last week, to free up more accommodation.

MACA asked tenants to update their assigned territorial government contact if they find private housing, to “help the GNWT … target efforts toward those in need.”

The office of the NWT’s fire marshal is said by the territorial government to have completed its investigation within a week of the fire.

However, the fire marshal referred Cabin Radio to the RCMP for comment.

A police spokesperson said on Monday, by email: “The NT RCMP Major Crimes Unit is leading on the investigation, working with the Office of the Fire Marshal. The investigation is ongoing and we have no further updates at this time.”