RCMP close Hay River highrise fire investigation

Hay River's highrise in August 2019
Hay River's highrise in August 2019. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

After two years, NWT RCMP are winding down their investigation into the fire that displaced more than 100 people from Hay River’s highrise in March 2019.

The building has been uninhabitable since the fire. The NWT’s fire marshal initially concluded, in the days following the fire, that it had been started intentionally.

Police last week said an RCMP major crimes unit had now concluded there was, however, no evidence to support any criminal charges. The file has now been closed.

“The fire greatly affected many people and we continue to extend our sympathies to them,” Cpl Greg Morrow was quoted as saying in an RCMP news release.



“While this may not be the news they wanted to hear, it is important to remember that should new evidence or information come forward, the investigation can be reopened.”

Two years on, the building’s fate remains unclear and residents still don’t know if they’ll be able to move back in, should they choose to do so. The town, meanwhile, predicts a squeeze on housing with a growing population and limited options for places to live.

Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson recently voiced concern in the legislature that a shortage of housing may see people leave the territory for the south.

Meanwhile, NNSL reported Harry Satdeo, the building’s owner, still believes the highrise can reopen and is seeking federal funding to restore it.

The building remains closed by a public health order related to asbestos and mould, while some fire damage remains to be repaired.

Unsafe balconies, a damaged fire alarm system, and other issues related to fire protection were among concerns documented by housing minister Paulie Chinna in recent months.