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Yellowknife

YK had seven car fires in 2020. Officials aren’t raising an eyebrow.


Did you feel like there were an unusual number of vehicle fires in Yellowknife this year? We checked and there are seven we’ve recorded. The NWT fire marshal says that’s not out of the ordinary.

Monday’s vehicle fire outside a home on Bigelow Crescent was the latest incident. Cabin Radio has reported a total of seven vehicle fires in the city since January. 

“It doesn’t seem unusual to me,” NWT fire marshal Chucker Dewar told Cabin Radio of the number. “Typically we have several vehicle fires, especially over the winter season where people are plugging in and the environment’s a little bit harder on the equipment.”

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Dewar said the Office of the Fire Marshal is still investigating the cause of Monday’s fire but there is “no indication of any criminal activity associated with the event.”

The Yellowknife fire division’s summary reports for 2020 indicate the cost of fire damage to vehicles this year isn’t especially high compared to previous years.

Firefighters attended a burning car, pictured in a submitted photo, outside Yellowknife’s Liquor Store parking lot.

Between January and March 2020, there was a reported $63,000 in vehicle property loss due to fire. The five-year average for the same period is $86,040.

That gap was even larger between April and June, with losses of $4,000 this year compared to an average of $39,300 for the same period between 2015 and 2019. 

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However, the financial toll was greater than average between July and September: $80,400 compared to a five-year average of $62,070. 

Cabin Radio’s first report of a vehicle fire in 2020 was on January 8. Following the fire on 50A Ave, the City of Yellowknife urged residents to check electrical cords used to plug in vehicles and be careful when using multiple warmers. 

There was a vehicle fire in an alley behind 50 Street on February 10, followed by a vehicle fire at a Niven Drive apartment building 11 days later and one on 54 Avenue on March 1.

A car caught fire outside the downtown liquor store on July 15, the sole vehicle fire reported by Cabin Radio during the summer months.

Finally, on November 21, a vehicle caught fire on Franklin Avenue near Forrest Drive. 

Dewar said there can be a wide variety of causes.

Firefighters battled a vehicle fire outside a Bigelow Crescent residence on Monday afternoon
Firefighters battled a vehicle fire outside a Bigelow Crescent residence on Monday afternoon. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

“When vehicles aren’t maintained as per the manufacturer’s recommendations or receiving regular service, things can and will go wrong with the motor vehicles that can result in fire,” he said.

The Office of the Fire Marshal often does not investigate the cause of fires that start in the engine compartment or dash area, as the evidence is almost invariably destroyed. 

Dewar said there are steps vehicle owners can take to prevent the risk of fires. That includes regular inspections, replacing damaged extension cords, and ensuring required maintenance is performed by a professional.

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