The hamlet, businesses and a few volunteer residents in Iglulik have set up security patrols after three fires were started in three days.
An unoccupied private residence was badly damaged on Aug. 27, an old hamlet truck was torched on Aug. 28, and a blaze ignited at the landfill on Aug. 29.
“In our opinion, they were definitely set on purpose,” said Greg Morash, Iglulik’s senior administrative officer.
He added that no injuries were sustained in any of the fires.
Seven patrol vehicles were on the road over the following nights as regular checks were performed on various buildings.
“That seems to have calmed it down quite a bit,” Morash said, adding that the cover of returning darkness has likely emboldened a few youths and adults who are looking for trouble.
The schools – including a new high school that hasn’t yet opened – the daycare and preschool, the health centre, hamlet offices, the Northern store and the Co-op are among the locations under heightened vigilance.
“Any fire is bad but if you hit one of those big places… we’re in big, big, big trouble,” said Morash, who added that a push is being made to demolish some derelict buildings in the community that could also be a target for arsonists.
Mayor Celestino Uyarak added that there was a suspicious house fire in June as well.
“Yes, it’s a concern for everyone,” he said, noting that residents ought to be careful not to make public accusations against specific individuals as police and fire investigators continue to do their work.
Uyarak said Iglulik’s volunteer fire department did a fine job as they were repeatedly put to the test late last month.
“Our firefighters are quite fast, quite quick to respond,” he said.
Morash also offered praise for the firefighters even though the fire at the dump took the better part of two days to fully snuff out.
“They worked their butts off on the other two fires. They were pretty tired,” he said. “They got it mostly out (at the landfill) and then they went back the next day with our heavy equipment and doused it and moved it all around. It looks like it’s all out now so we should be good.”
The hamlet has distributed magnets to schools with emergency contact phone numbers printed on them so students can take them home and call if they see any suspicious activity.