A playground, centre left, is seen opposite apartment buildings – one of which burned down on Saturday – in a satellite image of Inuvik's Kugmalit Road.
The Town of Inuvik warned residents to keep clear of debris from Saturday’s fire at an abandoned apartment complex that contained asbestos.
The fire forced a controlled demolition of the building late on Saturday after the structure became unstable. One bystander was treated for smoke inhalation but there were no other injuries.
On Monday, the Town said in a statement that it acknowledged residents’ concerns about “the potential release of asbestos dust during the debris removal operations.”
The Town said the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission and territorial Department of Environment and Natural Resources had been consulted and were jointly working to safely clean up the site.
The area of the fire and debris on Kugmallit Road has been cordoned off, the Town said, urging residents to ensure neither they nor their children enter the area.
“All parents are asked to speak with their children and advise them not to play in the area, including the playground,” read a statement issued on Monday evening. A playground opposite the burned-down apartment building will be temporarily closed “to deter unsupervised children from playing in the area.”
The Town said debris will be wetted down to reduce the amount of dust created as material is taken to the landfill.
Residents of surrounding streets are being told to close all windows and remain upwind of the area while wetting-down of roads and removal of sand and gravel is in progress.
Air quality monitoring would be carried out, the Town said.
“Given the necessary measures that will be put in place, and with the cooperation of the public to follow the noted safety guidelines, we believe the risk of public exposure will be limited,” the Town concluded.
The precise quantity of asbestos in the building is not clear, but asbestos and lead paint in the complex had long been a concern.
Town officials had in 2017 said the cost of remediating the building, and others like it, made purchasing the abandoned units from their owner prohibitively expensive.
The unit in question is said to have been unoccupied since at least 2012.